Intl Student wanting to study in N. America - please help!

Hey guys,

First and foremost, I should apologise for this thread not directly relating to Industrial Design (the theme of this site). I do however feel (and hope) that this forum may be my best bet in getting some good feedback.
Also, sorry for the length of the post.

My current situation: I live in South Africa. I have a B.Com(4 year degree) in Information Systems but I’ve always been a digital artist at heart.

A few months ago I decided I wanted to study a computer-based design program abroad in the USA/Canada. I applied to Vancouver Film School (Digital Design) and Portfolio Center (Media Architecture). I’ve been accepted into both but have decided I’m probably going to rule off VFS. I get the impression that their program is mainly technical and lacks real conceptual design and design theory. After all, any monkey can work out an application with enough time.

So here’s my pickle: I cant really afford to do another 4 years of studying (living expenses for 4 years would be A LOT, especially for an international who isnt earning any income), nor do I really want to. Also, if I studied for 4 more years, Id want to now walk out with more than a Bachelor’s degree. So that rules out a BFA/BA.
I dont have an undergrad degree in art, so getting into an MFA program would probably be near impossible. Also, if I did get in, Id probably feel a bit out of place, given I’d lack the education of my peers who’d have art under-grads.

Hence why I looked at a ‘graduate’ school like Portfolio Center who offer a 2 year program, but literally teach you from the ground up. Also they are supposedly quite a prestigious school?

Keep in mind, any school Im applying to, I cant really visit, because the cost of a trip to America to visit all the schools is pricey.

Here’s what I now want: I’d like to apply to a school in California, as ultimately that’s where I’d like to be most. It would put me a lot closer to my family in Nevada and I’ve been to LA, San Diego, OC etc before and love it there. I’ve looked at options such as Art Center, Otis, Cal Arts, Art Academy (San Fran).

One option that is sticking out at the moment is Miami Ad School’s San Fran branch. Does anyone know anything about this school? If so, would the SF branch be worse than the Miami one, given that is the ‘head office’? What’s the story there?

There are 2 other options that look appealing. CaLArts’ 3-year MFA program which seems to offer the core BFA courses in the first year, so one can catch up. The other is Art Center, but I’m not sure whether I’d qualify for their Graduate program, and dont want to do a BFA.

Do I have any other options in Cali?

You can take a look at my portfolio at: http://www.smartweb.co.za - Click “DOWNLOAD PORTFOLIO PRESENTATION”. Continuing to the main site will take you to my slightly older portfolio.
Maybe looking at my work will help you form an opinion.

Thanks a lot guys!
I apologise for the length of this post and appreciate any responses I get.

Hey guys, anyone out there with some useful advice?
I need to make a decision ASAP, so would seriously appreciate it.
Im sorry the post is such a long read.

check out Carnegie Mellon’s Masters program in Interaction design. its two years plus a summer if you don’t have a design degree undergrad adn they offer a 30% of tuition fellowship to all admits to the Master’s program.

Yeh, not really interested in going to Philly though.
Still want to know what people think of places like Portfolio Center and Miami Ad

Actually, Carnegie Mellon is in Pittsburgh, PA which is 300 miles (5 hours driving) west of Philly. If you are interested, Carnegie Mellon is a great school for people with different academic backgrounds because it is very interdisciplinary. In addition to the interaction design program, it also has the Human Computer Interaction program, which is the only one of its kind. It integrates computer programming, art, interaction design, behavioral science, etc. http://www.hcii.cmu.edu/ As for Cali schools, I don’t know much, but I’ve never heard of Portfolio Center or Miami Ad.

Ok, well I assume youre a rep of some sort for Carnegie Mellon or a student there.
Either way, as I said, not really interested in Philly (or its near surroundings).
Not really interested in programming either. Done that before. Didnt like it.
Thanks for the reply anyway.

Actually I used to be the director of admission to the graduate program of design in a school in chicago and was basing my answer on the best possible place that suited you based on the information you provided on your background, concerns and interests given in your first post.

as an aside, if you put forth a question to the Core community, and the answers you receive are not the answer you are looking for, thank the person politely and move along. to dismiss it out of hand [after all we don’t know you and your background with Philly thus our advice may entirely be wrong] implies that you aren’t looking for help or advice which in turn results in no further help or advice and the thread fades away…

I’ve heard great things about Portfolio Center, and looked at it strongly myself (for graphic design). It’s big on skills, but if you ever want to teach, it’s not the place to go. I don’t know if that’s of interest to you or not. Basically, I ended up deciding that it wasn’t worth the price tag for a non-degree program. But it may be otherwise for you.

Right now, I have no interest what so ever in teaching.