I am in my third year at CCAD, currently an Illustration major with a minor in Fine Art, and a full time Illustrator and lead Art Director for a small children's book company.
All I really have to say is that incoming students need to make what they can out of any education they receive. I have read almost all of the other comments on here, and it makes me believe that most of them are students that did not give their all, or even try to understand the purpose of the classes the school requires you to take.
CCAD is not here to coddle you. The professors will not hold your hand throughout your education here like your teachers in High School. However, they will extend a hand out and help you if you ask them for it. I get so sick of people blaming the high drop-out rate on the school. No. the 50-60 percent drop out rate is because of students who do not understand the meaning of "the real world" and are too busy getting hopped up on drugs to be to complete their projects.
I hear students blaming the teachers for why they are scratching to get a final project done from start to finish in the last 24 hours before it's due. It's called prioritizing. You're in college to get a career in the real world and support yourself for the rest of your life. You're not some kid doing their algebra homework. Act like it. That's all I have to say about the students themselves.
As for the actual school. I would not say it exactly lives up to it's hyped reputation, but I would not say it is a bad school either. I cannot speak for all the departments, but at least in the Illustration realm, the teachers are all incredibly helpful and have loads of information and connections to help you. Guess what though? You still have to ASK and WORK for it. Good deals don't fall into your lap.
There are plenty of opportunities for improving yourself as well as getting your name out there. Conventions, gallery shows, intern fairs, etc. all play a part in you becoming an achieved artist. If you ask the professors, they WILL help you. Granted, there will always be those few that are assholes, but everyone is human. You should expect it sometimes.
There is a lot of busy work, but again, like in the real world, there is also pointless busy work. I'm not sure why everyone is so fussy over it. It helps you LEARN and it helps you understand how to function with a high work load. I'm not saying that because my professors say it, I'm saying it because I'm THERE right now in the real world and experiencing it. So far my job has paralleled my time at CCAD. I have learned a lot from both experiences.
Yes, you will take classes that seem ridiculous and outside your major. For instance, the school likes to integrate ad graph classes into illustration majors and vice-versus. The reason is because they want you to be well rounded. It's sometimes hard to find a job where someone asks you "HEY! Can you sit here and draw this character and that's it?" Sometimes clients need help with design elements such as placement, color, font choice, or whatever. I have found this integration (that many students like to complain about) has made my job a lot easier in finding and completing commission pieces with outside clients.I don't want to to blab too long. Just take what you can out of an education. Ask questions, try to understand where the faculty and office are coming from when they make decisions. And for God's sake, WORK! Do your best and just WORK!