The Savannah College of Art and Design
The Savannah College of Art and Design - Extra Detail about the Comment|
|Educational Quality||A-||Faculty Accessibility||B|
|Useful Schoolwork||B||Excess Competition||B|
|Academic Success||B||Creativity/ Innovation||B|
|Individual Value||B||University Resource Use||B-|
|Campus Aesthetics/ Beauty||C||Friendliness||A-|
|Campus Maintenance||B+||Social Life||B-|
|Surrounding City||B||Extra Curriculars||A|
|Describes the student body as:|
Friendly, Arrogant, Approachable
Describes the faculty as:
Friendliness: the faculty is warm and generally receptive, as much as any of the schools I've been to. Yes, there are a few jerks, but generally once you have that professor, they warm up to you pretty quick; they just tend to be less patient with strange students making bizarre requests of them. Students are pretty broad range. Being a pretty upscale and expensive art school, you get a fair share of snooty kids on mommy and daddy's paycheck, but you get far more students passionate about what they do. Freshmen tend to be either shy or extremely rebellious, as would be expected, and upperclassmen are generally willing to help people if you ask and don't interrupt a class.
Competitiveness: The school is definitely competitive against other schools. Depending on whom you ask and when, SCAD is either the top art school in the country, or one of the top five. Within the school, there's not a lot of push and shove type of competitiveness, but art is a very competitive field, so students are constantly fighting for attention, whether they know it or not. You learn to recognize the telltale-sinking look a student has when they think they have the best project in class and the first person at critique totally blows them away. But those that thrive on that type of atmosphere are those that are going to excel at this type of school.
Faculty availability: The only two people I ever had trouble getting in contact with were the chair of the department and the president of the school. Obviously, they're both very busy. Professors don't have research requirements; most only have personal art projects they work on here and there. Some professors leave right when class is over, and that's it; some are there until all hours of the night (occasionally) to offer help to students that need it. Usually, as long as you're not coming to them the day a project is due they will be willing to help as much as they possibly can.
Creativity: All art schools are "creative," no matter what they say. In the fine arts majors, creativity abounds. That is to say, they have more than their share of new age post-modern found art trash-gluing crap. The painting department is all but a joke at the shows except the intro classes where they actually teach you to paint what you see without sticking shreds of metal on the canvas. The same goes for some of the sculpture classes and photography. Some of the less 'fine art' majors don't have as much of a problem with this, since they are mostly focused on a working-world production environment, and they are actually concerned with getting jobs after graduation. The school stays at the top of the field technologically though, and constantly listens to students if you know where to put your comments and who to talk to.
Busywork: the first year is almost entirely busywork. You're going to learn to draw. Again. You're going to take color theory. Again. You're going to take figure drawing. Again. And you're going to hate it, because it's boring and repetitive, and you feel like you know it. But after that first year when they call for entries to the foundations show and your professor urges you to submit something, you'll look back and realize how much of a difference that one year made. I always thought I could draw well until I had to learn it again, their way (and all art schools do this). After the first year, you're going to still get some busywork in some classes, but you'll never see a workbook, thank god. Some of the stuff in the school of film and digital media can really only be taught through boring exercises, but once you learn the basics and get onto your own projects, you'll have a lot of fun with it. The senior year is a lot of fun and work with your studio classes where you get to do essentially what you want in your portfolio.
Scholastic success: in art school some people get away with B.S.ing their way through school. It's unfortunate, but it's true, even at SCAD. The only consolation students have is that their portfolio is going to suck, and they'll be living with their parents doing graphic design they're academically overqualified for. The general education classes are less flexible, as one would expect, however. You either know it, or you don't. Some professors are more rigid, and some more forgiving, across the entire school.
Quality of the Program: I'm pretty happy with my degree. In order to be really happy, I would have had to have just taken electives for four years and not have to put up with any of the other crap, and then get a BFA for it. That doesn't happen here; SCAD is not a trade school, it is an accredited art college, and that's an important distinction. Students get a good overall education with a specialization in what they want to do, rather than a quick 2-year degree program. You will learn to be an artist in your field, not just a grunt in a chair. I came in a year before the Computer Art major broke into four separate specialized majors, and the first iteration of Interactive Design and Game Development had three classes that people just complained nonstop about. It took some time (changing core required classes means going back to the accreditation board, and they have to re-certify the entire major again, including auditing the school's financial status, the faculty qualifications, the level of success of the students, and so on), but they got changed. Yes, I hear time and time again that some of the things people really want to do they have to learn outside school, but I hear that from students at every college.
Perceived Campus Safety: Oh boy, here's the doozy. It goes back and forth on this subject: some people say Savannah is terrible; some say it's not that bad. It really depends on where you are. Yes, it's not that bad, but for a city of its size (100,000 in the city of Savannah, around 300,000 in Chatham County) it is pretty bad. I stayed in an apartment by the ghettos my first year, and there were roaches, gang shootings, and constant screaming matches. But I learned, and got an apartment out on Whitmarsh Island, which is about a 20-30 minute drive (depending on traffic) and it was so nice out there we could leave our apartment unlocked. And best of all, when we had three people in the apartment, it was actually cheaper than the ghettos. It is important to know where to walk in downtown Savannah, and when. Obviously, don't go out after dark, and if you have to, drive, and if you have to walk, walk in groups. The school provides a personal security escort after dark, but it is sorely underutilized. The SCAD busses are also a great asset, especially when there's a group of students in front of a building with a security guard at the entrance. Most of the violent crimes happened after dark, when students were walking alone. Yes, there are a sizable number of such gunpoint muggings that happened in otherwise "safe" areas of the city with groups of four or five students. Yes, there was even a young woman who was kidnapped at 2 in the afternoon from a SCAD parking lot, and raped. I'm not sure that any other schools in large cities have much better records though. On the upside, if you have classes at Montgomery Hall (where 95% of the computer art classes are currently held), you get to park in a nice gated parking lot, the largest other than the dorm lots, with at least two security guards posted at night, and at least three after dark, including one at the parking lot entrance. Statistically, it is the safest place on campus, but that is also because it is the furthest away from the rest of the campus. You hear a lot of horror stories, but a lot are repeated, and among 7000+ students, it's actually a very small portion. Overall, it *is* pretty safe campus. Every now and then, though, something happens and makes it feel much less safe.
University Resource Use: The college library is very well stocked, even if most of the books are pretty old, and for obvious reasons, there is little outside the art fields. There is a great deal of money invested in the school's growth, for obvious reasons. However, it does occasionally seem like there is quite a bit of money thrown around for sake of the college itself. For instance, there is apparently a jail the school bought that was condemned, and they hired an international artist to come in and plant vines that now climb the walls, put some walkways in, and claimed it was nature reclaiming architecture. In reality, it was a bunch of money spent on a pile of rubble.
Campus Aesthetics: Most of the buildings are pretty nice. Some of the older ones are in pretty sad shape, but nothing worse than a 70's or 80's house that hasn't been renovated. At least they don't have roaches everywhere. I do feel obligated, however, to note that one particular building, the "fabrication shed" behind the architecture building was actually condemned by the city. The school only used it for building large student projects for architecture and furniture design, and began the process of rebuilding it according to historical standards (all of SCAD's buildings are historical). However, after about 6 months, when all but one wall had been pulled down and there were just tons and tons of bricks laying in piles, SCAD announced it had 'run out of money' to continue the construction. A little flaky if you ask me.
Campus Maintenance: There are only two things I ever noticed needed constant fixing (beyond the fabrication sheds I mentioned above) are the skeletons in the life drawing rooms and the touch-order stations in the Byte Cafe of Montgomery Hall. The skeletons were constantly missing their heads because stealing them was as easy as removing a screw and lifting the skull off the spine. Professors began to lock up the replacement skulls a while ago, but they keep being stolen. Apparently it's the new flaming dog poop. The order stations at SCAD have been broken for months, and the school refuses to fix them because supposedly it will cost $10,000 each (there are two) to fix them, and the income the cafe receives doesn't even begin to cover that. I wonder why they bought them in the first place, and what happened to the warranty.
Individual Value: In a big school, it's easy to become a number. Sometimes I felt like it, but that was usually when dealing with the administration and having to rattle off my student ID number instead of my name. However, if you get involved, and become memorable, the school gets much more personal. I was on a first-name basis with all of my professors, including the chair of the department, was constantly involved with suggestions for improving the school and departments, and for providing events and resources for students (through Thirteen Thirty-Seven, discussed below under clubs). It is sometimes hard, however, to shake that feeling that you are just a walking 100 grand check to the college, but I think you're going to get that no matter where you go. I even got it at a local community college back home, when the professors there weren't wallowing in self-pity at not getting a job at a university.
Social Life/Surrounding City: It's difficult for me to speak on this one, since I gave up my social life when I went to SCAD. I do hear, as often as I hear about campus safety,
there's nothing to do in Savannah.There is stuff to do, but Savannah is a 'sleepy southern city,' a city that happened to have a college that grew into it, rather than a city that grew around the college. There are clubs, bars, cinemas, etc, but there's not as much nightlife as you're going to find around the New England coast or western coast. To be honest, it's a really good city to just sit down and focus on college.
Extracurricular Activities: SCAD has just about everything extracurricular except football, which was actually being started (for the third time) when I graduated. Starting a club is literally as easy as getting a group of interested students together, writing a constitution, being able to argue how the club is different from other clubs/organizations/sports, and being able to argue why you should get as much money as you are applying for. I was part of the founding group of Thirteen Thirty-Seven, the Interactive Design and Game Development club, and it really was that easy. It's lots of paperwork and bureaucracy, but it's easy at least.
School work and challenges: A lot of the early stuff is pretty easy, but if you're just learning some software, expect to be wanting to drive an ice pick into your leg sometimes. Some parts go smoothly, and sometimes you build that marshmallow sphinx and it melts in your car (true story from one of my art history classes). Once you find your groove, however, a lot of times you may find it hard to stop on one project and finish the one that is more pressing. I have my gripes about the school, as everyone does, but I really loved it there.