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The Academy of Art University

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Date: May 28 2010
Major: Art & Design Department (This Major's Salary over time)
I'm on the fence between negative and neutral, but ultimately when I look at where all the students I worked with and graduated with wound up outside the Academy and in the real world—I have to go negative.

I graduated in 2006 with a degree focusing on computer arts. I have yet to land a job doing anything related to my original goals. When I run into fellow 06 alumni from the same department, it's the same scenario.

We graduated at the wrong time man. The Academy wasn't ready to teach us the new stuff, which is really now the current stuff.
Crap. Everyone keeps telling me my stuff is good, but last generation good. My education was worthless before I even graduated.
It's been four years. I had to teach myself all the techniques people wanted. The Academy was mostly worthless.

The computer arts department was way behind the times when I was there (2001-2006…yes 5 years…they also don't tell you that it is impossible to do it in 4 unless you kill yourself). Outside of 2-3 good instructors (who were also pretty open about how screwed up things were in the dept/school), every CA related class was horrible. I would go to class, just to wind up riding BART home and looking up tutorials. We had to fight for a Z-Brush class, which only became a regular part of the curriculum after we graduated. UnrealEd was another class we had to fight to get, yet was only taught in our last semester.

The traditional/fine arts side seemed great, at least from my perspective. Most of my best experiences came from this side of the Academy. I wound up wishing I had gone for an illustration degree instead. It is true that the Academy will let anyone in, which I know makes those with already acquired skill or raw talent furious. For all I care, those students can get bent. The FA related teachers would work with the worst of the worst students as long as they showed signs of improvement (which only came from hard work). Given the work load, explained later, those students deserve their chance to have someone help them improve. Not coddle egos.

The administration side is the entity to be most wary of. They're the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Give bad advice. Always changing up requirements. They won't hesitate to send goons to your classroom to bounce you out if something funky has happened with your payment.

Reported workload in another comment is correct. 60+ hours a week if you go full time. Initially it is so they can weed the weak out. Eventually it becomes a,

preparation for the real world
All it did was burn everyone out and gave one student diabetes (drank so much soda to try and stay awake). It isn't 60 hours of work concentrating on one thing. It's 60 hours of work juggling 4-5 assignments that require a lot of man hours to do well in a very short amount of time each (with different skill sets/concentration required).

Part of that number is also based off of student competition, which is very high. This is a good thing. Students pushing students. Just realize in order to stand out, you're going to put in those hours.

The icing on the negative side of the cake: ass kissers got the job leads, opportunities and get pushed towards internships. I know of maybe 2 out of 10-ish people that got a job lead/internship in school for my major that was not constantly trying to dry hump an instructor or his/her industry friends that stopped by. That was because their work was so good, it would be embarrassing not to give them the opportunity (one student's work was 90% of an ad they put on TV…not multiple students work). If you fell below great into good/mediocre/shit it was time to kiss butt.

With all that, you get out what you put in most of the time. You work hard and genuinely try to do your best, you will get results from the good instructors. Just be very cautious of anything CA related. You'll put in work and get out good results…good results for last generation techniques that is.

Currently in debt. Unemployed. Burned out. Bitter.

questionWhat other places can you recommend now that you have bee trough all this?? Im interested in the Animation & Special Effects MFA.
Thanks in Advenced.
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