Every year, this forum is filled with posts and comments about the realities of going to art school. I thought it would be smart to build up an FAQ for those who are going to be attending, created by those who have attended art school already (ie an faq which is created by people who have experience).
I will start.
1. Where you choose to go to art school is less important than bringing an attitude of "doing whatever it takes" to learn about art to where you are studying.
2. If you go to a big name school and just do the assignments, you will leave school with very little of value.
3. If you go to a little bitty school that anyone could afford and no one ever heard of but work your ass off, you will end up miles ahead of the brats at the art schools who are only doing their assignments and the normal minimal workload art schools require.
4. The schools will not hand feed you the information. You will have to take it from them. If one instructor doesnt know the answers, go find another one and get the answers from them. My best biz advice came from my illustration teacher and from the teacher who helped me to learn color theory. You never know who will have the answers...but you must push to find the questions that need to be asked. Dont expect it to be given to you with a silver spoon. It does not work that way.
5. What you do outside of school (outside of the student assignments and on top of the student assignments) is what will get you where you need to be. After school you will work four times harder than you did in art school so you might as well pick up the pace your freshman year and push as hard as you can.
6. One does not have to spend 100,000 dollars (which is what most end up spending after their loans are paid off) in order to get a great education.
7. 95 percent of what can be found at the big art schools can be found at the state and community college level and the other five percent (specific connections and work experience) can be found in places like conceptart.org (see employment section) and cgsociety amongst others. Of course one's major area of study will dictate where they must go to find the information. If any information is lacking from the less expensive education route it can be supplimented with great programs like the Illustration Academy and or the ConceptArt.Org workshops.
8. Degrees mean jack squat to an artist unless they plan on working overseas (required for the visa) or teaching full time at the university level. No one in my entire career has ever asked if I graduated from college. I didn't...but I did do six successive years in art school. I did not even graduate from high school. Now I own two international art companies which lead in their respective fields. However, my education was valuable. But, one can be educated away from a degree system and end up just fine. Degrees in art are mostly for pleasing your parents.
9. Art school is a blast. Don't let it distract you from being as great as you can be. Becoming a professional artist takes nose to the grindstone work. Art school can distract from that (oh it is so tempting to go to those all night parties where all sorts of debauchery is happening) but limit yourself there...if you are going to art school..spend the time doing art.
10. Art school recruiters will say anything they think you want to hear in order to get you to go. The best way to find out the truth about where you are going to study is to visit the school.
11. Ask to see the faculty work of those whom you will study under. If you blindly attend because of reputation you may find that you have instructors who cannot do anything of the sort that you wish to learn yourself. ie if your instructor is a fine artist who makes everything out of balls of rice, you are going to have a very hard time learning composition and color theory from them. Find out who you are studying under before you spend six figures on an education...that even applies to the more affordable solutions at the state or community level.
what else??....I will leave it to the rest of you to add your thoughts.
Hope this is some help to those who are getting started.