Please Help Me!! - OCAD and Carleton

Hi guys. I’m having trouble deciding between taking 2nd year at OCAD or 1st year at Carleton. Both offers are still open (for a few more days anyways…), so I can go either way. I’ve talked about this in a previous topic: Canadian Schools: Choosing between OCAD and Carleton but I’ve had some major revolutions in thought and now have a whole slew of questions from quite a different angle…
I’m also hoping some more OCAD students than before can come forth and help me out. So here goes…

First a little background:

  • I just came out of my 2nd year of computer engineering at the University of Toronto, still interested in computers and with a somewhat technical mind, but completely unsatisfied with the material I was learning. Going back is not an option I wish to pursue.

I consider myself to be a highly motivated individual. I like to learn a lot of programs/skills on my own, ie. Blender, Photoshop, Illustrator, sketching etc. I also have some ideas already formulated in my head for the field I want to get into (electronics and interface design).

I’ve accepted Carleton’s offer, but am getting what they call ‘cold feet’, albeit for what I think to be justified reasons.

And so here is my problem:

The University of Toronto is right by OCAD. Going to Carleton will mean restarting my entire university career (4 years as opposed to OCAD’s 3 years) and leaving everyone I’ve come to know in the Toronto area.

  • 1. I’m kind of averse to spending an extra year in Carleton unless the quality of schooling is actually worth it. I’m thinking I could make better use of that 1 year gaining real world work experience than staying in school. Is that a valid judgement call?

I know that Carleton has a good rep and some would say- a better education than OCAD. If both accepted me as a 1st year student I’d probably choose Carleton. That is not the case though, since OCAD is willing to take me as a 2nd year student. BUT, I’m still unconvinced that OCAD is a bad school.

  • 2. On the contrary, some of the posts I’ve read on the board also say OCAD aint bad and is a school that is constantly getting better… (good teachers, facilities, etc.) Any OCAD students care to confirm/discredit this?

I’m thinking that possibly, my own motivation, previous technical experience, and desire to learn skills on my own, will help provide some needed technicality that seems to be missing from OCAD’s curriculum.

  • **3.**I’m banking on my own abilities rather than of the school to get me by. A m I right?

There is, however, one BIG question I have which may end up being the dealbreaker:

  • 4. Does the scene at OCAD have any good connections to industry? How do the two schools fare in this regard?

    I just found out that unlike Carleton, OCAD does not offer any internship placements and that you have to find them yourself. Is this a major disadvantage? Does this mean that Carleton students get dibs on internships that OCAD students don’t have? I’m highlyinterested in interning or working in China in the future.Will either school put me at an advantage for such an opportunity?

Alot of text there I know, so I GREATLY APPRECIATE your patience in reading this. Help me out and I’ll be eternally grateful!

I have no idea how old you are, your background, or your personality, so it is tough to tell what is best for you based upon a few words on a forum. But here is my take:

Some background: I went to Carleton right out of highschool (not for ID, I was going for a BA in English). About ten years later I went to OCAD for ID. So I have experience with both schools, to an extent.

As I’ve said before, go to Carleton. You will meet new people, experience a new city, see new things, and get a more rounded education. I think the extra year you spend in school will be offset by the co-op program Carleton offers.

Carleton is a real university experience, like UofT. OCAD is very highschool-ish, in my opinion, from many perspectives (administration, student body, facilities, etc. Notsomuch the instructors).

Go to Carleton, Just Do It… :smiley:

If you have the desire to contact me off forum, let me know, we can discuss in more detail if you like…

I’m 20 and I guess that would still qualify me as a youngin’.

One thing I’ve heard more than once is that OCAD profs are pretty good. At the same time I’ve heard that the Carleton faculty is not as impressive.

I’ve also heard alot about OCAD’s “New Curriculum” - well I guess its not so new anymore since they’re already a few years into it… Anyways, anyone know if its really as great as they make it out to be?

Your post has got me to register rather than just browse as I’ve been doing for a while now. Maybe I can provide some input for you; I recently graduated from Carleton’s ID program and prior to that I took an evening course at OCAD so I’ve been to both. Granted my experience with OCAD is limited and a few years old now.

I agree with A-Line here; moving away is an advantage not the other way 'round. Especially going to school, you’ll meet and get to know a lot of people quite well very quickly.

I believe that the extra year would be worth it but you said you already have two years of University. You likely would have an easier go of Carleton’s program than your peers in the first two years. They’re making you start at year one for the studio courses but you likely have the math, science, psychology etc. that Carleton makes you take in year one. This will provide you with either lots of extra time for your portfolio, the chance to start a minor or to get a head start on second & third year courses.

I agree with A-line about the high-school feel of OCAD but the most important thing when you’re done school is going to be your degree, your portfolio and design work experience and you can get that done in both places.

Don’t know about OCAD but Carleton not only has courses to get you started with Solidworks, Illustrator, photoshop, InDesign etc. but there is a great oppotunity to learn from TA’s and other students in class that are all learning the software at the same time. Even tools not taught by the school can be learned from classmates like rhino, 3DSMax, etc. but that will depend a lot on who your classmates are. Learning on your own is good but can be extremely frustrating without a mentor or someone who knows more than you about what you are learning.

Don’t know about OCAD but Carleton has a lot of grads that have been working in industry for a long time. Connections might not be official but a lot of alumni come to Carleton when looking for students to work for them.

I didn’t do the co-op program at Carleton but what I understood was that placements weren’t queued up for you to apply to like some engineering schools. Most I spoke with found it to be a waste of money because they had to do most of the legwork themselves. But like I said there are a lot of alumni that come back to the school to hire so there may still be more opportunity. As far as Asia/China goes I doubt any school will put you in a better position than the other to go there.

Hopefully I’ve helped a bit.

Thanks for the input A-line and UberDave… really appreciate it. You guys have given me a lot to chew on, but its all worth it.

One thing I want to ask the Carleton grads/students is about the collaborations with engineers and also the HOT lab. When I was studying engineering one of the only things I loved in the program was working in projects with people with much greater programming/mechanical skills than I. I realized pretty early on that I was more of a ‘conceptual’ guy and that we could get some cool things done when we worked together. That’s actually one of the initial motivations why I started applying to ID…

Anyways, if you guys have any responses about how beneficial and comprehensive working with engineers and the HOT lab were and what it was like, that’d be cool. I want to know if its all that it’s cracked up to be.

Is it usual/possible for students to start internships the summer after 1st year?

Also another question I have is this: I know Carleton’s program is pretty intense and its not that I’m not willing to work hard for my program/career, but I also want to know how much free time I can expect. I have an interest in music, and I want to pursue this on a regular basis (ie. find people to play and collaborate with regularly). I also am thinking of writing for the newspaper. I have potentially 1 or 2 courses knocked off per year for the first 3 years due to my transfer credits from UofT.

If I manage my time lets say… decently and want to include both of these activities, realistically, can I live a balanced life (ie. one that includes social life and sleep!) there without say… dying?

EDIT: I guess this question can also be directed to the OCAD people as well.

co-op at carlton was useless for me…i landed an internship on my own very easily with a toronto ID consultancy, as do most people…

you’ll have better luck getting cool internships without the help of teh co-op office… and yes, you can do them after any year. the co-op office has connections with only certain companies, and none of those are studios…think IBM, corel, NRC, etc… boring and not even ID in many cases…

so do not consider the co-op program as an advantage

however, chose carleton :wink:

anweser- none (free time). and if you don’t want to work hard, you won’t get far (in school or life). sorry to be so blunt, but school is where you should be kicking a$$ working overtime to get ahead before life and other commitments get a hold of you. that’s, unfortunately, just how it goes…