is art institute of pittsburgh the right online place to go?
September 2, 2009 8:04 PM   Subscribe

My signifigant other is on permanent disability. I just started college as a full-time student myself. I am going to jr college. Paid for tuition and books via Pell Grant, and using the remainder of loans plus s.o.'s disability payments to cover living expenses-- as you can imagine it's tight but we're making do so far. Significant other wants to get a BS in photography. Is Art institute of Pittsburgh right place?

Online classes appeal very much due to flexibility, and that it means can take classes wherever there is an internet connection, so if treatments or hospital visits or they will work with schedule.

Said for art institute of pittsburgh, can use financial aid to pay for cost of school. they are billing 437 per course hour, more more than jr college. but s.o. sure can apply previous BA courses to core and just have to take photography courses. 437 seems really high but s.o. says that is actually typical cost for private university.

s.o. had fafsa done, is speaking to rep tomorrow. is making good choice to go thru them? if not, can recommend good online college for photography degree?
posted by anonymous to Education (7 answers total)
Um. Aren't photographers typically in business for themselves? Seems like he'd be better off spending the money on equipment and then shoot. shoot. shoot.
posted by mmdei at 8:08 PM on September 2, 2009

If it is 100% covered by grant money and scholarships, go for it.

If he has to pay for it out of pocket or take out loans? I advise to not. Really. I know it's tough, but coming from someone who spent two years in conservatory and has a lot of friends with music degrees, going into any kind of debt to go to any kind of art school is just. not. worth. it.

That doesn't mean it's a bubble burster. My honest opinion is: he won't learn that much about making good art going to classes. I absolutely second mmdei that he should invest in some good equipment and just start shooting. A lot. Get good. Send them around.

I know too many kids who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to practice for four years. Don't do it.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:02 PM on September 2, 2009

This is the place that buys up huge blocks of ad time in the middle of the night on the channels that unemployed people watch. They bait their hook with yummy worms like graphic design and photography and culinary arts. They tailor their ads to the locale they run them in in order to give them a veneer of pertinence. Your Art Institute of Pittsburgh is the same as the Art Institute of Seattle, the Art Institute of Dallas, and the Art Institute of Portland.

I would take these photography courses only if I thought they would be fun. The degree someone would obtain would not help them get a job.
posted by Sallyfur at 9:04 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

If he is capable of attending college, he may not be legally disabled, and if whoever is paying him finds out, he could be in trouble.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:02 PM on September 2, 2009

Clients do not choose their photographers based on whether they have a photography degree from an art school. They choose based on a portfolio. Don't go into debt getting a degree in photography. Invest in good equipment and start shooting. It's easier these days with everything digital (yes, many if not most professionals use primarily digital equipment these days), so in addition to having a great digital camera, a good computer and software, and the ability to produce high-quality prints are a must. Photographers I know are using Macs for this kind of work.

But also, if finances are a concern, spend some time working on a business plan and be realistic.

There are different kinds of photography careets--you don't describe the nature of his disability, or his interest in photography, so it's hard to know what sort of path he might be interested in and capable of. I offer the following example of one possible path:

A close friend has worked as a (self employed) professional photographer for over 20 years, often with some very high-profile clients whose names most people would recognize, and has his work featured prominently in many beautiful published books. Yet with this excellent portfolio, he still barely scrapes by. He'll easily spend $10,000+ doing a shoot (buying/building props, renting equipment he doesn't own, hiring photo assistants, food stylists and models, etc.), then he wait 3-4 months to get paid the $20,000 he'll earn for the job. (He also pays rent for his studio.)

Doing that three or four times a year might make you an okay living, but you need to be able to front that money to pull off the shoot (ie, paying for lots of shit on a credit card that you pay off when the check comes in).

If school still seems the best answer, perhaps a degree in marketing, or business management would make more sense, so that when combined with photography skills, he could establish and maintain a functioning business. Sometimes my photographer friend suffers from lack of good business-management skills.
posted by ViolaGrinder at 11:42 PM on September 2, 2009

"Your Art Institute of Pittsburgh is the same as the Art Institute of Seattle, the Art Institute of Dallas, and the Art Institute of Portland."

Well, sort of. The online courses are always out of Pittsburgh, IIRC, no matter where you live. The other campuses are for on-campus studies, and there are differences from campus to campus (subjects and degrees offered, etc.). But it is the same company.

"If he is capable of attending college, he may not be legally disabled, and if whoever is paying him finds out, he could be in trouble."

Universities are full of disabled students. I finished my BA while I was on disability payments -- my disability at the time did not prevent me from attending school, just from doing the type of work I had been doing before my injury, and I had insurance which covered that sort of disability. Eventually I was able to go back to work, with a shiny new college degree to show for the time I was away. Anyway, I think most disabilities do not make one incapable of attending college -- they just require certain accommodations.
posted by litlnemo at 2:52 AM on September 3, 2009

Art schools (um, the prestigious ones, not the Art Institute of ________) are more for making contacts for the future and less for learning things. If he's a complete photography newbie then taking a couple of classes at your JC wouldn't hurt, but spending money/going into debt for a photography degree is a waste. Just get out there and shoot.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:56 AM on September 3, 2009

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