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Although I am from Kansas City, it was a hard decision to stay in KC and go to college. I thought I wanted to explore either coast (specifically Boston), but I really found a gem at Kansas City Art Institute. Every time I went on the campus before I was a student, I was treated warmly and really felt a part of the community. As a student, I was recognized as an active member socially and artistically. At times it was even hard to let myself fail because there were so many people holding me accountable for my success. I majored in printmaking and at first I regretted going into the department because of the apathetic senior class. My class was so determined to understand traditional and contemporary printmaking and really leave our mark on the school and our world of printmaking. We bonded and truly enjoyed ourselves in and out of the classroom. It also took me a while to adjust to the teaching style from the teachers in printmaking, but I learned how to communicate with the three main teachers and get what I needed out of each of them, without getting frustrated. I think it would have been so easy to want to transfer out of the department and even the school based on a couple of peoples' attitudes. After realizing that I make my own experiences and I will make my education worth while, I opened myself up to learning so much from my studio and liberal arts teachers. I took a variety of studio electives in various departments and always looked at them as a way to better my own personal work...not just make the work required to get an 'A' in the class. Additionally, I come from a lower to middle class family and I truly have minimal debt in comparison to how expensive the school is. I was really afraid of debt while in school so I tried my best to always apply for outside scholarships, even when I was already a student. I also consulted the financial aid department every year to make sure that I was getting all the aid that was due to me from the government as well as institutionally. I worked full-time throughout winter and summer break so I could have money to pay for school out of pocket and even started making a couple of payments to my loans before I graduated. I consolidated my loans right after I graduated, so I have a locked in low interest rate. The financial aid situation is all about keeping good communication with the financial aid office to have a realistic view on what you're getting yourself into. I know this is a lot of sporadic commenting, but if I can summarize: most people that have negative experiences are negative people and 'want, want, want' with out putting forth the effort to 'EARN'. There is a lot of sacrifice that goes into going to art college that most likely doesn't happen at regular university. Before choosing to go to a specialized school, ask yourself if you are willing to put in what it takes to rise to the top? Not just while in school, but after you graduate. There are so many successful alumni that have come from KCAI...they didn't get where they are by just showing up to class and commencement ceremony. It has only been a year since I've graduated and I know if I want to work in the world that borders fine art and commercial art (printmaking), I have to work hard to be different. I am not delusional and think that someone is going to find a dream job for me. KCAI gave me a great education and perception on life as an artist. Don't be persuaded against the school without getting the whole picture.
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