The Art Institutes?

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    The Art Institutes?

    Hi everyone, I'm a High School Junior looking to go into either Concept Art or Illustration. For some time I've had my eye on Ringling, SCAD, or LCAD.

    However, given the economic situation, which I doubt is going to get much better soon, I'm beginning to look more into the Art Institutes. There are four of them in the state I live in (Texas), and though I'd like to go out of state, the AIs are way more affordable than the out-of-state schools I've been looking at.

    The only thing is, I've been slightly suspicious of the Art Institutes for some reason. I don't know why exactly, it's not as if I've heard anything bad about them. But I haven't really heard anything good about them either. Really, other than their own ads I haven't actually heard much of them at all. I've read the Reality of Going to Art School thread, so I guess it doesn't really matter all that much that AI is small and cheap as long as I work hard, right?

    Even so, does anybody have any experience with the Institutes in Texas? Can anyone tell me anything about the Institutes in general? Thanks.

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    Even so, does anybody have any experience with the Institutes in Texas? Can anyone tell me anything about the Institutes in general? Thanks.[/QUOTE]

    Hello, I have not personally had any experience with the arts institutes but I know someone that has graduated from AI Fort Lauterdale. When I asked him about the teachers he said some of them basically say here's and assignment and leave you on your own to do it. Instead, he recommended Ringling to me. From looking at work from students online, you can see the contrasting quality. During my college search I found this site called http://studentsreview.com . Look at what the reviews say.

    For illustration/concept art, Laguna College seems like a great choice because they have great student work and they also have hybrid programs. Not to also mention they are 20k/year. They also give scholarships for great portfolios, which make it a lot cheaper.

    http://kedrewdraws.blogspot.com

    My Adventures at Ringling ^
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    Thanks, Kedrew.

    Well from what I can tell, most of the reviews of the Art Institutes of Dallas and Houston seem pretty negative...:/

    Laguna College looks more and more appealing the more I read about it, but the fact that they have no on-campus housing is kind of a drawback. (That and California's living expenses scare me...)

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    I go to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, online. It's great, IF...and that's a big IF...you are self motivated. The classes are not easy. In fact, I think my classes at SDSU during the 90s were easier than these are. But, they will allow the tools to learn. But, they are not going to sit on you and force you to learn them. The school, teachers, and admins that I have had contact with are as helpful as you will allow them to be.

    In short, it's a great school, as long as you put in the time to do college correctly.

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    Keep looking into Laguna College of Art & Design. Housing arrangements can be as expensive or as cheap as you want. Lots of students love sharing apartments. The faculty is great. Students get a lot of good personal attention. The people care about you -- I can attest to that. Tuition is less expensive than the other California art colleges. Southern California is a great place to be. Wherever you go, I would avoid any of the art institutes. They are for profit, meaning they have care heavily about their profit for the owners. In general, you will get a better education and usually more career opportunities at an accredited art college.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxster View Post
    Keep looking into Laguna College of Art & Design. Housing arrangements can be as expensive or as cheap as you want. Lots of students love sharing apartments. The faculty is great. Students get a lot of good personal attention. The people care about you -- I can attest to that. Tuition is less expensive than the other California art colleges. Southern California is a great place to be. Wherever you go, I would avoid any of the art institutes. They are for profit, meaning they have care heavily about their profit for the owners. In general, you will get a better education and usually more career opportunities at an accredited art college.

    I have yet to find a private school that is not in the business of making money for it's investors, including Laguna. The only schools that aren't in it for the money are state run schools.

    As for accreditation, the Art Institute IS accreditted. So, please...get your facts straight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by darkwolf29a View Post
    As for accreditation, the Art Institute IS accreditted. So, please...get your facts straight.
    Depends... Some of the Art Institutes weren't accredited at certain times, and sometimes "accredited" is just tossed around without understanding what it means. There are different agencies acknowledge it. You need to know which councils or agencies recognize it.

    Also, for the OP: Why not read this thread ... http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=102315

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    Hey Incendia,

    I'm on the same boat as you concerning the AI. I personally haven't heard anything good or bad about the school but it just seems out of place for some reason. It might be because they're popping out of the ground across the nation like crazy! I 'unno...

    I have found a school that looks very promising in the state of Texas, and no matter where you are it's relatively close to where ever you may be in Texas:

    http://www.geminischool.com/html/index.asp

    I've visited the school twice and am just all out impressed and in love with the work that is produced and the teachers who minister to their students. I suggest scheduling a visit whenever you find the time available.

    OH! And for the first time EVER they are having a summer workshop! I've signed myself up for the Creature Creation workshop and I wish I could get into the Coral Painter one, but it happens well into the beginning of marching season and I cannot miss any of the marching camp.

    I hope this information is helpful!!

    -Wiggs

    PS I'm a Junior too!!

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    They came to my school for the 2947823948th time to do a presentation in class, from what i gather, their credits are only trasnferrable WITHIN the other AI institutes, little to no other places recgonize their credits and courses. The tuition is also super expensive, and although it does guarantee you a job out of it, a lot of people don't take the AI too seriously. Alot of the people i talked to up north here frown at it and my own art teacher told me she'd be very dissapointed in me if i chose to go to such a place xD. From what i gathered its a money grabber, more so than more colleges. Now, i'm not saying that its not a good place to learn because i see alot of stuff that people have done from that school thats good but...i personally would never recommend it to any of my friends as my 1st 2nd or 3rd choice.

    Has anyone else noticed how they suddenly appeared everhwere like a mass corperation across north america?

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    Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
    Well, a friend of mine is going to the Art Institute of Dallas, and from what she tells me they seem pretty lax about things...maybe it would be better just to focus on other schools.

    Oh and Wiggles--Gemini School's actually pretty close to where I live; I signed up for their summer workshops too! (the Concept Art one) :]

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    Sweets!! I'll see you at the workshop in a few months then, Incendia!

    -Wiggs

    PS Gemini is really close to where I live as well. And if your budget allows, I would TOTALLY go to the Coral Painter workshop. They're having a someone really incredible (as if the people there we're incredible enough ) leading the workshop, or from what I've heard.

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    The Art Institutes have always seemed sketchy to me, as well, though before I really knew anything about art schools, this was because it was a chain art school, which struck me as really... "commercial", I guess, for lack of a better term.

    Now that I know a little more about art schools, the reason I am wary of them is because none of them (sans one) are part of AICAD.

    http://www.aicad.org/
    Quote Originally Posted by from AICAD.org
    Our member schools are all accredited by their respective regional accrediting associations (the agencies that accredit general colleges in the U.S.) and also by the nationwide agency covering all art and design programs - the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). These three elements - art and design specialization, BFA and/or MFA degree granting, and dual accreditation - are required before an art school may become a member of AICAD.
    (Although to be fair, I know SCAD isn't AICAD either, but SCAD has attained a reputation by its own merit for being a good school, whereas like you, I've never really heard anyone say anything good about the AIs.)


    As for why the Art Institute of Boston is part of AICAD, I think this is because it was absorbed by Lesley University, helping to lend to its credibility, but this is really just a guess on my part (if anyone knows better, please feel free to correct me).

    I actually have a friend who goes to AIB and he hates it. He says once you are in, it's kinda common knowledge that the Art Institutes are regarded as somewhat of a joke among art schools (even if AIB is the only AICAD one). Even if it wasn't, he doesn't feel like the school is challenging him at all or providing him with anything he feels he needs for the future, whether it be connections, experience, or skills. He's looking to transfer to UMass Dartmouth as soon as possible.

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    If you want concept art I would recommend another college, at least for a year or two. Concept art emphasizes lots and lots of liberal arts and those courses will be a lot more intense at another college, giving you a much better place to start from. Then AI, if you still want to go there, can later prepare you for what it would be like working a real job as a concept artist. Illustration ... definitely another college. I almost decided to study illustration and if I had I would have gone to PNCA, but I saw that the Art Institute, just a few blocks south, was offering an animation degree, and I thought it would be nice to get back into it, so I did some research, and it sounded like a good fit for me (I emphasize me because I think that the school is not a good fit for everyone, so DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST), so I went for that instead.

    In my experience it seems that people who already have some industry experience are much more satisfied with AI (maybe because they know what they need and what to ask for, which the school emphasizes constantly, help them to help you). I think that their foundation courses are very weak. For example, at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, our final papers were often 15 pages in length, properly cited. At AI our papers are only 5. Most of my foundations were already covered at other schools so I didn't have to worry about it.

    Half of the time the students do not read the syllabus (some people do not even keep theirs ... !!!), and then on the day that something is due they are confused. And I am confused that they're confused, because it was on the syllabus. One class, scriptwriting, the ENTIRE CLASS had not known something was due. Not only was it on the syllabus but the teacher mentioned it a million times. This is another reason why I think having prior college experience before AI is best. I've never experienced that sort of thing at other schools. You gain maturity, being accountable for your education, and a better baseline for gauging what is actually hard. I suppose once you have that you're more willing to go the extra mile to get what you're going there for.

    My experience is with the AI of Portland, I can't say that they're all the same. I don't know that it's "common knowledge" that the AIs are a joke. It's a different kind of school, more vocational, and it's just human nature to compare and be competitive, so you definitely will have people at neighboring schools feeling superior, as well as those inside having doubts or also feeling superior themselves. It is not what students at other schools think that matters, it's employers. What decided it for me was the very specialized training for specific software and the portfolio development bit was a bonus, I don't even have a portfolio, I just get jobs word-of-mouth. That was strictly it, and so for me, it is the best school. Two classes of Maya and I have had one job interview and a place I worked for before is going to hire me again because I finally have skills that make me placeable when they prepare for their new project (along with other things I can already do, this just means I can stick around on the project for a lot longer). When I was doing my research, calling studios to ask them about what they thought of the portfolios of students coming from AI, they said the portfolios were good, but the major reason for not hiring them would often be ego. I don't know who I would pin that fault on; the school or the student.

    Last edited by Aaaamory; April 10th, 2009 at 05:25 PM.
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    Ratcatcher,

    I work at the AICAD office and thought I'd clarify the AIB/AI question for you... Although AIB contains "Art Institute" in its name, it is not an "AI" school and never has been. There are other colleges with "Art Institute" in their names, i.e. San Francisco Art Institute, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Kansas City Art Institute, who are not part of the for-profit AI chain. I can understand how this might be confusing especially since AI sometimes has schools in cities where institutions with "Art Institute" in their names already exist. For example, San Francisco has both San Francisco Art Institute (not an AI school) and the Art Institute of California-San Francisco (an AI school)... I hope this helps! And of course, if there is any question in the future, please always feel free to call us here - 415.642.8595.

    Best,
    Rebecca

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    I would stay away from AI

    It really depends on which one but for the most part I would stay away from AI and their For Profit approach. I have visited 2 of them one in Santa Monica and one in Dallas. The one in Santa Monica hands down was better as for as student work coming out of it.I talked with the guy who headed the animation program at Dallas and at different points in our conversation did not know what he was talking about and even showed me his work and it was horrible. Now I realize that doesn't really mean anything but seriously when you have a guy that is the head of an animation program and teaches classes and has poor to mediocre skills I am not comfortable. Thats just me and He also said he didn't start drawing until his early twenties. Dude looked like he was in his late 20s early 30s. Sorry I want to go to a school where there are highly skilled instructor with many years of experience under there belt.Also when I visited Dallas they wanted me to put down a $100 application fee before I even toured the school because the overly eager (Sales person) my admissions lady thought I was just going to attend right away or something. However after I toured the Dallas AI I decided heck Im in the area why not stop by Guildhall at SMU. So I did and was very impressed and the faculty there was great. Got to talk to Chad and Eric who are art creation teachers there and they were great. Again the student work was very good.

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    Incendia, i'm kind of in the same pickle as you, what i would recommend is go to UNT, it's a great art school and we have up an up and coming new media degree which will help u explore concept art as u make games or animations, we are in the process of getting new faculty but the most important part is getting a broad arts degree and work on your traditional art skills, which is really strong here at UNT. I would recommend doing lots and lots of tutorials from 'www.thegnomonworkshop.com' and massive black. Upon graduation i plan on attending the guildhall at smu they have great connections with the industry which is key, and drill game art. What i take from the program at the guildhall is that it's all about how hard u work, they have some peeps that come out with great stuff and get awesome jobs and some peeps that weren't ready and just rushed into the program thinking they would come out amazing. And also take into consideration that Texas is still kinda "pre-mature" when it comes to entertainment art compared to Cali. Go to Cali and just be a # amongst many talented artist or stay in Texas, work hard and really shine. *I'm not saying Texas doesn't have great concept artist cuz we do just not millions like Cali lol* I would also recommend gemini school if not UNT, it's way more expensive but the teachers there are def better, i'm also planning on attending the concept art workshop, should be fun.

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    Gemini

    Gemini is another good choice if you live in texas. Its still a fledging school and I talked to Colette who is the president there and she said that they are currently trying to get accredited.

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    Saw this thread and just wanted to throw my 2 cents in. The Ai admissions will flat out lie to you in your face. The 80,000 dollar program is simply not worth the stress. DON'T GO TO ANY AI. The housing is very bad and the faculty is horrible. Look into art schools that have a good reputation and great teachers that are great at what they do.

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    I agree. I went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for one year and pretty much got robbed and lied to on a daily basis.

    Some of the teachers, I must admit, are excellent and really know their trade but...

    EVERYTHING else about the school was absolutely horrible.

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    I graduated from the AI in downtown Chicago IL.... I was NOT at all happy with the education near the end of the program. the school had some very talented and great teachers but there were ALOT of bad ones to make up for the few good ones. The degrees in Game design and the Animation degree are very 3d oreinted (maya, with barely any zbrush unfortunately) and take you away from strong 2d foundation about 2 years into the program. Bottom line these are FOR PROFIT schools and Ive heard that only a few of the Art Institutes have good graduates emerging (San Francisco, Arizona and one in canada somewhere).

    I hope this helps, but be very weary about these schools everyone... you'll get an art degree... but it definately doesnt put you at professional level when you are done.

    Art is my greatest weapon... that and laser eyes

    DA: http://jpdemon.deviantart.com/
    Website: http://jeremypetersen.daportfolio.com/
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    I want to throw my two cents in regarding Ai as well. Specifically, The Art Institute of Atlanta.

    Abridged Version:
    Don't go to AiAtlanta, it's a huge waste of time and money.

    Full Version:
    I am currently at the Art Institute of Atlanta, and I have been here for about a year. I am leaving Ai after this quarter (three more weeks left to go) because I am terribly unhappy with the quality of education I am receiving. The admissions reps are very nice and say nice things about the school, but that's their job. They are basically sales men and women trying to get you to buy their product.

    The student housing for AiAtlanta is absolute junk. It literally smells like garbage, people piss in the stairwells and they pull the fire alarms at 4am in the morning at least twice a week. The rooms also have a lot of noise pollution. You can hear EVERYTHING. People above you, below you, down your hall, it's ridiculous. AND the apartments are located next to a freight train yard (a rather busy one too). The strange thing is that the school itself is located outside the perimeter of Atlanta in Sandy Springs. The student housing is in Atlanta near the Georgia Tech campus. If you don't have a car, you have to take a shuttle bus (that only comes once every hour) to the train station, ride the train to Sandy Springs and ride (or walk) the shuttle bus to school. It takes about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours to get to school depending on traffic. Sometimes longer if the bus gets into an accident (we had 2 bus accidents) or the trains have a problem. Also, get your shots if you are staying at the student housing. I didn't and I got meningitis. I was also marching drum corps at the time for DCA, so I had to perform at World Championship finals a week after having a spinal tap. I moved out after one quarter at the student housing, and found it a ton cheaper and more convenient to just get my own apartment down the street from the school.

    The classes feel cheap. Like McDonalds dollar menue cheap. This school is for profit, and that's exactly how it feels. At least McDonalds doesn't charge $3000 for a chicken sandwich. A teacher will often pop in a video and say "take notes" or give you a handout and leave class for the rest of class. Sometimes you get lucky and get really great teachers, but the bad drastically out number the good.

    I would not recommend AiAtlanta if you want to do animation, illustration or GAD. Culinary and video production are probably the two strongest programs at the school, but that's not really saying much because they are still not that great.

    I have met some really cool people and made friends, but everyone generally feels the same way about the school. It is mediocre at its best. The big reasons why people don't switch out are because either it will cost them even more money than they already have to pay or they procrastinate and are on the fence about leaving their friends.

    I would highly recommend passing on AiAtlanta, don't even mark it as a last resort. You are better off going to Kennesaw State or SCAD if you are living in Georgia and want to stay in-state.

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    I don't know about the AI schools, but if you are in Texas, I would go to Gemini. The students, atmosphere, teachers and everything is simply impeccable. I've visited there on their industry night, and it's really a gem. They pull teachers directly from the big game companies there, and there aren't a large number of students to compete with. You won't get a BFA (because they dont have academic classes), but the degree doesn't matter anyways. From what I've seen this school does great things with hard workers. I'd say go for it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin. View Post
    I don't know about the AI schools, but if you are in Texas, I would go to Gemini. The students, atmosphere, teachers and everything is simply impeccable. I've visited there on their industry night, and it's really a gem. They pull teachers directly from the big game companies there, and there aren't a large number of students to compete with. You won't get a BFA (because they dont have academic classes), but the degree doesn't matter anyways. From what I've seen this school does great things with hard workers. I'd say go for it!
    High praise coming from an Art Center grad From the student works I've seen, you're spot on, the arts education imparted at Gemini is truly first rate; however, they only offer a 4-year, $73k visual arts program. And since the school is not accredited, financial aid is strictly out-of-pocket or private student loans via Sallie Mae (not a good option by any stretch of the imagination).

    When I exchanged e-mails with a Gemini school rep, she did tell me that it was possible to take the first 2 years consisting of drawing-painting upon portfolio review (I forgot to ask why someone could not just take the last 2 digital concentration years if an applicant demonstrated necessary foundational skills). She also told me that they were trying to gain accreditation, more financing options, and look into expanding the flexibility of program options - when all those expanded options become a reality remains to be seen.

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    I live in a town with an AI and another more well known art school. What I can say is that I see students that go to Ai leave to come to our school. Their most common complaint is that classes are not available when they need them.

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    AI ;/ , there is alot wrong with AI and the way the recruit people, while you say it doesn't concern you "im the hard working time" you are going to find out how important a learning environment is, you see a school that does not require its students to fulfill some kind of portfolio requirement is basically doing its students a great disservice you see the current environment in the industry is one of competition and unless you already know the "Drawing" aspect of visual communication or have had perivous training no amount of experience in using 3D software is going to give you the edge over the people who know how to draw; while the whole idea of school is to teach you things there is no way that a two year program mostly based around Maya is going to teach you how to be an artist.
    how i came to gain this knowledge had a 3k $ cost but im really glad that i figured it out, you see after i figured out AI was a waste i took some time off and focused the fundamentals of art bought some books, bought a few DVDs and worked on a portfolio and i used it to apply to a few different schools" ones that actually require a portfolio"
    and i did get accepted to all the ones that i applied for including Sheridan and Otis.

    In my case the financial aspect of the AI experience did not really hurt me but i know a few friends who are being hurt and it sucks to see it happen to them. Apparently their certificate is not finding them jobs and the student loan office doesn't care about the current status of the industry.

    my advice to you is this, " good things in life don't come easy", spend some time and find out what art is all about.

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    The Art Institute of Washington is phenomenal

    I'm hearing and have heard in the past a lot of mixed reviews about AI schools and I think the most important thing that you need to remember is that the different locations are NOT the same school. Please, Please, Please, Please look into the actual school itself and not the chain. Some of the AIs as posters have already said are pretty terrible, however there are few that are actually really decent art schools. Here are my 2 cents:

    AI online is really pretty terrible for a student straight out of High school (I've been there). After a year attending the school I finally listened to my boss' advice and transferred. So much of art school is the environment and the community, if you have the means, go to an actual campus.

    After doing a lot of digging and researching school choices I landed on AI of Washington. After being here for a year, I'm still in love with the school. Now don't get me wrong, I can't speak for all the programs or the school's reputation, however, the Media Art & Animation program is phenomenal compared to the other schools I've visited. The teachers are all industry professionals and are here to teach because the enjoy it. I haven't been in a single class that a teacher just plugged in a video or gave handouts. Moreover, the MAA teachers are actually at the school after hours and regularly hold open classes for you to come and hang out and get 1 on 1 advice. Almost daily I get one the side one on one instruction from the teachers. It really feels like a family. As far as the lack of portfolio requirement, AIW is still a business and wants the money of new students. That said, the animation department has such rigorous courses that by the middle of the 2nd year anyone who doesn't belong there has long since flunked out. One of the classes has a 50% failure rate. This encourages hard work, focus, and dedication, and again builds a camaraderie with your fellow students. Another complaint I keep reading about is the housing. I have nothing but good things to say about the housing here, and everyone I know that gets tired of it finds a place nearby, never more than a metro ride away.

    The ONLY things that are legitimate complaints about this school location in particular that I've found in my research or my experience are; 1) Price. There is no denying it's a hugely expensive school. 2) Reputation, AiW is a relatively new school and because of that is not highly recognized AND unfortunately carries the stigma of it's predecessors. However, every MAA student that I'm aware of that has left AiW and gone onto a graduate program at a "top" name school has been accepted.

    Aaaamory brings up a good point however, "In my experience it seems that people who already have some industry experience are much more satisfied with AI (maybe because they know what they need and what to ask for, which the school emphasizes constantly, help them to help you). "
    I find this to be incredibly true. If you want to get better, you HAVE TO TALK to the teachers. They're always willing to critique, review, guide, moderate, encourage, or give tutorials on anything you want to know. But you have to ask them. Also this is NOT a fine art school, this is an industry school. They're teaching you how to work in the industry. While they are teaching you the skills you need to be a good artist, you absolutely must put in the extra effort to come into the school after hours and seek additional help AND practice on your own like a beast to become a great artist.

    Phew, sorry that got so long winded. Long story short: Not all Ai schools are awful, a few are actually pretty damn good. Don't make the mistake of judging a school based on reputation and hearsay, go to the schools yourself. Road-trip, ask around, spend time finding out the nitty gritty about the actual quality of the instruction and how far the teachers are willing to go to make sure you succeed.

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    I worked for a short time for a telemarketing-like service, and the company's entire business model depended on recruiters from the online schools paying commission for sending people their way. Take that for what you will.

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    Not all, but most!

    I agree blackelk. Not all of the AIs suck. The AI in Santa Monica looked like a great school, but the others that I have been to well you can just read my post up above if you havn't already.

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