Say No to the Art Institutes

Story Time.

Once upon a time (a little over five years ago now) I was looking for a college to go to. I knew I wanted to study art, especially comics and animation (I was really into animation at the time). During a high school field trip we visited the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Then I took a summer workshop there in their animation department where I learned to do character designs, the stretch and squash animation, and a little 3D rendering.

I even went so far as to try and see if I could go to school there.

This is what I learned:

  • The Art Institutes are not accredited by any national education boards I could find.
  • Because they are not accredited, scholarships and grants would not cover the costs of going to this school.
  • Because scholarships and grants wouldn’t fund an education at a non-accredited school, if I went, all the schooling done would be paid for by loans.
  • And at the time they were $60,000 a year. Not covering food or lodging.
So I took a heaping dose of “NOPE,” and went to Bowling Green State University instead. And my education (and life) was better for it.
But in the present, I have a friend, who was believing that she had to go to the Art Institutes because she needed a degree if she was to get a career in the field she wanted to go in (which is video game design and art).
She was taking online classes, but now she has discovered the following:
  • the majority of the classes teach you how to use outdated equipment and tools in the graphic design industry. (I couldn’t help but notice in the workshop I was in years ago that their animation tools were outdated as well).
  • she’s had three different advisers in a year and a half because they’re all temps. Yes, the advisers at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh are all from a temp agency.
  • she has not had a non-class school day since February 2012. That’s over a year and a half of constant classes, no breaks.
  • she’s learning more from outside online classes and workshops than she’s learning from the Art Institutes.
  • Most shocking of all (but not to me): The Art Institute was in two class-action suits in the last 5 years, totalling over $11 billion. The reason? The Art Institutes raise their costs to more than the maximum grant amount so students take out more loans, so the Institutes will milk them (and the loan agencies) of their money. The students and loan agencies wised up to this, and filed suit.
Clearly, the key to happiness (and a good degree) is not with the Art Institutes.
Besides, even if you think “Oh, but no one will take you seriously as an artist if you don’t have a degree!”
No one wants to hire ANYONE who graduated from the Art Institutes. Their methods are outdated, and the school might as well be a scam.
If you’re insistent on getting a degree (which you probably shouldn’t be), go to a traditional school with a great art program, or go to an accredited art school.
I’ll tackle my thoughts on art school next time, because I know there are a LOT of people (including art students) who wonder if going to college is even worth it.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support!

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