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What you didn’t know about Art Schools

February 28, 2009 - 64 Comments

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I have been receiving a lot of emails from prospective art students looking into going to an art school and decided to do a post to guide those who are planning on attending an art school or just any private college.

As all of you know college is very expensive. I am very fortunate enough to have a very generous grandmother who is paying for my college tuition. However for some, they need to get student loans and a little help from the government to pay for their tuition. I’m sure college tuition varies by school but the average cost of a private school is at least $20,000 a year not including living expenses such as dorm, apartment fee, etc. If you include that, it exceeds way more than $30,000 a year. You multiply that by 4 is $120,000, a price of a house in some states, and a down payment for a house in California.

I currently go to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and before this school I went to a different art school in So Cal and a community college for about years. Honestly, for the past year, I feel like my $30,000 tuition was not well spent. I, and most of the students of my school think the school is just ridiculously expensive. I mean, RIDICULOUSLY expensive. You do not understand how much this school rips you off. They charge you a $170 registration fee that goes up every semester and you have to pay this every single semester to sign up for classes. After charging about $670 per unit(which is going to go up next semester!!!) that equals $8,000 per semester for 4 classes, they charge you a course fee on top of that which varies by class. For an example, I have a computer class that I need to take for my major and they charge students an additional $400 for that class because we need to use the printer which is freaking ridiculous. This school seriously finds every way to rip students off. Last semester they raised the tuition and they are raising the tuition again next semester during this recession. The school knows that during recession people lose jobs therefore, go back to schools. They are taking this opportunity to rip people off and it’s just so frustrating because there aren’t much you, as an individual can do. A lot of people who go to my school, and other private schools end up dropping out after their first semester when they realize it is just a waste of money because you really don’t learn anything during your first semester. I heard the school does this on purpose to just have people enroll and take their money. For those who stick around, you still don’t learn much… Honestly, I feel like I learned way more at the community college than this school. Also I worked as a kitchen and bathroom designer for 2 1/2 years before going to this school and sometimes it’s ridiculous how I know more about interior design and the construction law than some of my professors. The AAU is poor at choosing its teachers, which is why students end up having different teachers at the end of the semester (a lot of teachers get fired due to their lack of knowledge in this industry) Out of my 1 + year in this school, for the FIRST time (besides one of my teacher from my last semester) I am finally learning something this semester but I still don’t think it is worth the $30,000 I pay. Honestly if I did not need a degree for my profession I would totally quit school and just start from the bottom and work my way up in the industry. However, unless I land a gig in Top Design and win the whole competition, or the law of building construction, etc changes, it is best for me to get a college degree. I’m sure a private art school does give you a more in-depth experience that is related to your major than just a public college since a lot of people transfer from public schools. However when thinking about going to a private school make sure you go to a community college or a public school and get the electives or general courses out of the way. You do not have to pay $2000 for an English class or a Math class at an art school when you can pay almost nothing at a public school. Take as many classes you can then transfer to a private school but know that the cheap Academy of Art only accepts 30 units from other colleges so you still have to pay a crap load of money ($90,000 to be exact) in order to get your degree. Also if you have any questions about the school, don’t ask your counselor or advisor because these people are commissioned based. They will tell you what you want to hear so that you will go to the school. Just look online and ask questions at college forums or ask people who go to the school.
I’m sorry if I am scaring you and if this is all disappointing but I would hate for you to waste your parent’s hard earned money, or soon to be your hard earned money when you can save. If you really want to attend a private school, my best advice to is go to a community college for a year or two and get all the electives/ general courses out of the way. The school, (well my school at least) does not care about you or your education. You just need to be a self starter and have to be willing to learn.
I’m so sorry for this super long post and by no mean am I trying to offend anyone(maybe just the people who own private schools.) I really want everyone to know the truth about art schools (did I mention the owner of my school owns at least 50 vintage cars that are worth millions and millions of dollars? Wonder where our tuition goes to? More cars!) and you really are hardly going to get your money’s worth but because this society demands degrees(remember Kanye West’s College Dropout Album? Lol) and we have no choice but to go along with it.
btw, don’t even think about staying at an AAU Dorm.
My first semester I stayed at a shared studio with nasty office carpet on the floor, no AC nor heater, paid around $1,100 a month when I could have gotten a studio on my own for about that price. I told you, this school finds every single way to take your money. I bet they hire people to research on what the best, sneakiest way to steal student’s money.

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