Art Institute, University or Junior College?

Question… why do Art Institutes have such a bad rap? If they don’t request a portfolio, isn’t that why you’re going to school, to build one? I know they’re a bit commercialized and pushy to sign up but do you think they offer a better education than a JC or University if you are seriously focused on graphic design? Polling my former friends, co-workers, owners of design firms, etc., all answered that it doesn’t matter where you get your degree it’s all about your creativity and portfolio, however attending an Art school will get you noticed more than a JC or University. Thoughts?

I am currently attending an Art Institute (Denver) and I am looking to transfer. I can tell you a little about my experience there. The shop which you will make all of your models and projects is extremely crowded during the critical times (finals). Currently many of the classes are taught be the same teacher because many have left to other schools or left for other reasons. Because of the lack of portfolio at entrance you will be held back by students who have little skills to begin with. On the plus side there are a few good teachers and they push process alot. Once again this is only Denver. I would say put together any artwork you have and try your best to get into a school that will really push you to become better. I was disappointed because I thought I would be challenged more. Any program is what you make of it but if the dynamic really sucks It hurts your drive. I would rather get C’s at a really good university than straight A’s because my work looks good compairatively to others at the art institute. Just my opinion though.

One problem with the art institutes is that they have no admission standards… Their motto is “if you have the cash and a pulse, you are admitted.” This provides with a number of spotty graduates. In addition, employers can’t rely on their admission standards. At least if someone goes to a “name school,” there can be some reliance on quality of admissions and quality of work. The art institute provides a lot of hit or miss for their majors and courses.

The second problem with the Art Institutes is that they are a “for profit” institution. This has a lot of side effects. For example, all earnings, including investment earnings, are taxed to them. This is NOT the case for a Non-profit. Also, non-profits have to have most of their money “inure” to the benefit of the non profit organization in the form of better facilities, scholarships. Whereas a “for profit” organization’s goal is to put as much money in the pocket of the owners. What they don’t spend, they can keep!

This is NOT to say that all "for profit"schools are bad. I can think of at least two that are quite good in fact: SVA and Gnomin Institute. However, there is a real incentive of "for profit " schools to skim as much as possible for the owners and not reinvest their profits. You have to have a very, enlighted, non-greedy owner to make a “for profit” as viable as a “non-profit.”

I can’t agree with Taxguy1 more wish I knew this sooner but its never to late to transfer! My reason for attending was based on location but now I am prepared to move. This is good advise.

Thanks for your feedback, I do hear the experience level. As I am not a professional graphic designer I do have experience in Adobe programs and have solid skills in all MS Office programs. I feel pretty well versed for being self taught but need more fundamentals to complete projects. I do worry a little about the school, I figure I’ll give it a shot. Thanks for your feedback guys, really appreciate it. Sorry to hear your experience at Denver isn’t what you thought.

Reading the second part of taxguy1’s reply makes me think of the three axis cnc machine they have had in the closet for over a year with no computer to run it and all of the broken machines in the shop. Oh and how when a qualified teacher leaves they get another one to fill in by giving them the course sylibus and winging it. But I do feel bad talking crap when there was one teacher there whom I learned alot from. Hardly worth the money though. If you plan on paying back those loans go to a reputable university for the same cost.

Do you think though that the instructor level may be higher in this specific field because they claim to hire people who have a masters and have also worked in the industry. Not that universities don’t offer this but you have to be pretty specific if you want to teach at an art school I would think. To keep up on the programs you can’t walk in there an know nothing. I don’t know, sometimes I think going with my gut about this school is probably the answer but the graphic design program at the local university didn’t look as impressive.

I don’t know too much about the graphic design program but I will say they always have the most impressive portfolios at portfolio presentations. At the denver location they just recently required that the teachers have masters which means many are scrambling to fill this requirement. The programs for that field might be better, I would recommend looking at the portfolios coming out of there on coreflot as it may be a good indication of what you will learn if you apply yourself.

Thanks, I will definitely check into that. Good idea. AI education is better than no education I guess.

lol, thats any shop

you can be pretty sure that having mad msoffice skills are not going to make you competitive, as there are many people who know office software. If you would like to be a software operator working under a designer, than the art institutes or a good junior college are probably a good choice. don’t waste four years in a university, as they probably won’t teach you much software anyway, they expect you to just know it, like using any other tool, like a hammer or copy machine.