The value of an Arts Institutes diploma.
October 7, 2008 10:42 PM   Subscribe

What do people know about the Art Institutes?

Specifically, people who have attended and left or attended and graduated, as well as employers and their opinions of Art Institutes degrees, people who have worked there, or anyone who has any knowledge about such things.

Also, what value is a BA in Fashion Marketing from AI?

Thanks.
posted by Snyder to Education (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Do you mean the for-profit chain? We have an AI in San Francisco (as well as a nearly identically named not-for-profit art school). They do a lot of semi-aggressive marketing, and there are students who end up with some pretty hefty student loans, including some who don't graduate.

I would look very closely at the cost of tuition, the number of enrolled students, the graduation rate, and the employment rate. I'm skeptical of for-profit educational institutions (but for a focused student perhaps it works out okay). I would double check the course catalog for your area community colleges -- there may be similar courses in fashion and fashion marketing at a fraction of the price.

As an employer, I look more favorably at "traditional" not-for-profit schools, but I am in a different field.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:17 PM on October 7, 2008


I went to and graduated from one of the AI for-profit schools. So far I haven't had much luck getting a job but that's probably due to my own reasons, most of my friends however who I went to college with have jobs with reputable companies (ESPN, Hill Holiday, New Balance). I don't think employers are going to be judging you on where you went but more on your portfolio coming out of there.

I will give you a word of warning, one of my teachers told us that when he started working there that first priority is to make sure the shareholders are happy. They are owned by Education Management Corporation so their first priority is keeping them happy. Look at this question for the view from some old teachers.
posted by lilkeith07 at 11:29 PM on October 7, 2008


Collection of student reviews here, here, here.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:34 PM on October 7, 2008


A few friends went to the AI of Seattle. IIRC, they were happy with the classes they took (two were in the photography program, one in the TV/Video production classes). But they all said that the much-hyped, much-promised job placement/assistance after graduating was extremely disappointing. As in it sucked. If you're interested in attending, I would ask a lot of questions about job placement/assistance.

I went to the Seattle AI when I was interested in video production. The head of the department was a really nice guy and showed me around the place. They had all the state of the art equipment and everything looked really nice. But in the end I decided it was far too expensive to attend.
posted by zardoz at 12:04 AM on October 8, 2008


art school is fun while you're there, but once you leave, you realize that none of your friends needed financial assistance to go there. hell, they don't even need jobs after graduating. art school is a rich kid amusement, not for the career focused.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 4:29 AM on October 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I got a Graphic Design degree from AI Washington DC, and then got a decent job a week out of school from the portfolio show AI held. I was told by a number of employers and teachers that it is the work you produce that matters, not where your degree comes from. This seems, to me, to be especially true of GD, where a number of designers don't even have degrees in the field.

Marketing, however, seems a bit less subjective, and most of the people I know who have jobs in this field have Master's Degrees, so I don't know if I'd feel comfortable with AI.

I agree that I have a LOT of hefty school loans to pay back, more than my journalism degree from a four-year, private institution.
posted by bohdel at 5:13 AM on October 8, 2008


I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Never, ever go into debt for an Art Degree. There is no point at which it makes financial sense until the graduate level and even then it's a big gamble.

I will say that most of the artists I know who went to private Art Institutes (AI, SCAD, etc) have all had very good arts educations and had no more problems than most getting a job in their chosen field. Be aware of the differences between Art Schools and Universities and be aware of how this may affect your future plans in education (grad school, post grad) as some universities are leery of accepting non-accredited credits.

I do have one friend who teaches at an AI, and he seems pretty confident in the quality of the program and school, so I have no personal horror stories to tell.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:07 AM on October 8, 2008


My gf used to teach at an AI, a little less than a year ago, and still badmouths the place just about every opportunity she gets, mainly on the basis that the school/company doesn't care at all about whether its students actually get properly educated or not--as long as they're making money. She applied to the school to teach one subject but was hired to teach a subject she had no experience in, just because they liked her charisma. Her opinion is that the degrees they offer are generally worthless, other than for employment with a couple of companies that have deals with the schools. As far as actually working there and pay and all that, it doesn't sound like it was all that bad, but for someone who actually wants to educate people, it sounds like it could be a bit soul-crushing. Different locations may provide different experiences, however.

This was my answer to the previous question about teaching at AI. My gf had additional concerns about how units are not transferrable within the AI system (she had a student who commuted from Orange County to San Diego for class because the AI up there wouldn't recognize his classes here, and the schools apparently have a hard time staying fully accredited). She had a degree in Art History, but ended up teaching a US History class.
posted by LionIndex at 7:33 AM on October 8, 2008


At AI you get out of it what you put into it. This along with being aware that they just want your money and will not go out of their way to help you.

I decided to get an AA in Graphic Design from AI and began at their Boston school. I transferred to their Atlanta school after a year. Some of my teachers were knowledgeable and had good standing within the Graphic Design field. Others were piss poor and either had no idea how to teach, had no idea about the subject they were teaching or had out of control egos which they took out on their students.

Most students were young, right out of high school and didn't know any better when it came to what their teachers were doing to them. I was 30 when I decided to attend and was much more willing to speak up and out about suspect practices and asinine portfolio review rules.

Things I found to be true from ClaudiaCenters links:
- Horrible administrative team and extremely overpriced.

- Your dollars are more important to them than your valid complaints about access, policy and the amount of time wasted in classrooms.

- The review process is extremely flawed--conducted by random teachers who don't know your work.

I never finished my degree because I refused to take the portfolio class. I don't think this will hurt me in the slightest. As someone else said, it's your body of work that employers are interested in. My boyfriend works in Graphic Design yet his degrees are in Political Communications. I work at Cartoon Network and more than a few Designers here have also been to AI.
posted by Constant Reader at 7:46 AM on October 8, 2008


My wife is currently attending the AI in Dallas, in the GD program. She has had a great experience, overall. I can definitely back up those who say that it is very expensive, and we are not looking forward to paying back those loans.
posted by owtytrof at 7:55 AM on October 8, 2008


For what it's worth most of the campuses appear to be accredited by the big regional accrediting bodies. This is a good thing and means they are offering at least a minimum level of education and credits that will transfer and be accepted fairly universally. I'm not sure which campus you are talking about but double check the accreditation claims and confirm them at the accrediting body's website, including making sure that the programs you want to enter are listed.

This goes for any higher ed school and any program from Podunk Community College to Harvard. Check that accreditation!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:06 AM on October 8, 2008


This is not directed at AI specifically, but it is worth keeping in mind that for-profit educational institutions are beholden to their shareholders, and the education of the students is always secondary to that. They will cut services and raise tuition at the same time, especially in the current dire financial situation. I'm sure there ARE ethical institutions out there, but accreditation in and of itself does not insure best practices, especially since the accreditation is not necessarily annually reviewed (it varies between accrediting bodies). Also, and this is very important, if you ever transfer to another school and especially if you decide not to pursue art at all, it's probable that very few of your credits, if any, will transfer.

Personally, I wouldn't do it, and I work at a for-profit educational company.
posted by desjardins at 11:46 AM on October 8, 2008


A good friend of mine graduated AI Phila with a BA in game design, and got a pretty good job with the government working on kinda creepy propaganda video game. However, she has expressed concerns over the following:

1. The amount of debt she's in (around $70,000).
2. Her ability to go to graduate school if she so chooses--while an AI degree might be alright for getting jobs, it's not necessarily looked upon well in applying to graduate schools.
3. And, while she was at school, the lack of artistic ability in her classmates. This might not be a concern for the major you've chosen, but since AI does not require any sort of portfolio for entrance, she said she was pretty much appalled at the lack of artistic ability in her peers. What's more, the school didn't seem to particularly care about artistic development of students; apparently, they had to petition to get nude models during her tenure there (for an art school, that's pretty absurd).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:26 PM on October 8, 2008


I got a degree in audio at the Art Institute of Seattle. At the time, it was actually HARDER for me to get an audio job, because the reputation for AIS graduates was so bad, no one wanted to hire them. All of the jobs I got at the time I found myself, as the job placement assistance was almost worthless.

I had 2 years of state college in CA (Sonoma State University), and took the recording classes there for those 2 years before going to the Art Institute. SSU taught me 10 times more than the AIS did. At SSU, the classes were designed to teach you the basics, and give you a strong foundation. At AIS, they were designed to barely get you through the program. Half of the people who graduated with me couldn't even get the studio to work correctly without help, and this is after a year and a half of "education".

If your goal is to get an art education, there are many better places to do that.

That being said, the cullinary program at the time seemed to have a very good reputation, so it may be that some of the areas of study are excellent, and I just happened to get into an area where they were more concerned about getting paying students than actually teaching.
posted by markblasco at 4:45 PM on October 8, 2008


I'm at AI Philly and from what I've heard it's all about what you put into your education - going the extra mile to develop the skills you learn and seeking out the good instructors. From what I understand the quality of the program differs at each location. I'm in the web design/interactive media department and for the most part, I've found my instructors to be really good. I'm not far enough into the program to be entering the job search, but I've heard that students that get the jobs are those who went out and did the footwork, not relied on the school to find a job (as it should be). I know that in many programs the less talented/less hardworking students are phased out after a couple of quarters, but in some of the less difficult programs that doesn't happen. As far as accreditation, the school (atleast the Philly location) went through it last year.
It's NOT an art school - I think that's something important to keep in mind. If you're looking for a real, art education this is not the school to go to.
posted by ellebee at 5:19 PM on October 8, 2008


Thanks, everyone, for your help! Sorry I took so long to respond, other aspects of life kind of side tracked me. All the responses, pro and con, were very useful. Thanks again.
posted by Snyder at 3:08 PM on November 7, 2008


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