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Recently I've been reading about students being in so much debt that they fled the country and that a handful of these were art majors to which people scoffed at it being "worthless" "useless", etc.
It kind of put me on a negative thought path toward going to an art school. I realize that degrees aren't necessary for the field but I learn best in a classroom environment and I am so, so happy at my school practicing art.
Right now I am at the community college level improving immensely. I am usually the first to get to my drawing classes and the last to leave 3 hours after it's over. But, this is the last semester I can afford. I was laid off and no luck finding a new job, and to be honest, I do terrible in school when it's balanced with work. So I'm left to consider loans.
I was hell bent on trudging through my associates degree debt-free and taking out whatever I needed to go where ever I want to get my Bachelors, but I may need to reconsider.
I'm fearful of taking on debt after I've read such things. It would probably be no more than 6k to finish my associates- I can do this in federal loans (that's the only help FAFSA gives me since my mother illegally claims me and doesnt help me). After that, the school of my dreams is 60k to finish my Bachelors and that's w/o Federal Aid or scholarships.
But for right now, I'd really like to finish my associates. Since my school's Fine Arts plan of study degree is litered with useless classes to the subject, I also wanted to take many other of the great classes my school has to offer before the prices for such classes are more expensive at another school.
I believe debt is a state of mind and that you should chase your dreams but I need to consider reality.
In your experience has your loans been really difficult to pay off as an artist? Do you regret it, wish you could go back, etc?
Is it recommended that I just start taking out federal loans to finish my community college education?
IS an art degree worth it?
Other advice would be appreciated too.
So sorry if some of my concerns seem elementary, but the only people with college experience I know are my friends at school and they are all able to cruise on Federal Grants for now.
I have been mulling over this on and off too. I am at the end of my BFA in ILL at Ringling. I don't really even want to be an illustrator, but a painter (though some ways they can be the same thing). I have yet to graduate so I am paying none of it back, yet. Right now, I believe it was worth every penny. I have grown significantly as an artist and person. The community of friends I have are worth the money alone. I have learned so much from them and will continue to do so in the future. All that being said a school and passionate friends can only show you the pace an artist must work at. You have to have the passion in you to make it a life-style.
Do you regret it, wish you could go back, etc?
No regrets. The feeling of regret should be abandoned. Learn from your mistakes and move forward with life. You can't change the past. That being said if I could go back I wouldn't. Ringling isn't perfect, but it has been a great experience. It IS my goal to one day create a better school that costs significantly less.
Is it recommended that I just start taking out federal loans to finish my community college education?
No, beg your school for money or apply for scholarships. The less loans the better. That being said you don't want to work 40 hours and not get anything out of you education either.
IS an art degree worth it?
Degree in art means nothing except that you have studied in a traditional setting for x-years and that you can teach at a certain level. Plenty of low-level artists have these.
Best of luck my friend!
There are many people here more qualified than me speak, though I wanted to mention a few things are likely worth repeating.
Student loans are possibly the most unforgiving kind of debt. Filing bankruptcy won't forgive you of the debt. Furthermore, my understanding is that you would have limited to non-existent options for restructuring student loans down the road. To describe this environment as predatory at the expense of young students is likely a fair judgment.
Don't believe what people say about being an artist somehow makes you less valuable. You should check out Ken Robinson's video here.
Do you have any options regarding paid internships? I agree with Threecharles; see what you can do getting aid that can assist you to graduate without debt. It sounds like you know your strengths and weaknesses in the learning environment, that's really good!
Definitely get an AA degree since you are so close to it. When you are on a huge decision point, do take a time out and get on a train trip or something. Think about your dreams and what you really want and need. Imagine your success in the future and always look back at your mistakes.
I was in the same boat as you--really wanted to go to art school but couldn't afford it without massive debt thanks to parents who disowned me but were still legally my guardians, which screwed me over for financial aid.
Instead of racking up debt at art school, or maybe not being able to afford it at all, I decided to study something else at a public state school. Got a BA in my 2nd passion. Still in debt just from that.
Afterwards, I couldn't find a job in the field that I studied (in fact I realized there ARE no jobs I could ever get for what I studied, period, because the market has become so closed in the past 5 years or so), and I ended up working at a job I hate, that has nothing to do with ANYTHING I care about, art or otherwise, and I'm paying off debt for a degree that's done nothing for me.
Do you know what my regret is now? It's not that I'm in debt. It's not that I studied something that didn't get me a job. It's not that I'm working at a job that has nothing to do with what I studied.
I regret not going to art school.
Even if I were in the same circumstances now being in debt and having an irrelevant job, I'd be so much happier if I were in those circumstances post-art school, knowing I at least got to go for what I knew I wanted.
I'm saving up at my job now to go back to school for art, so I'm basically back at step one.
If you think that art is really your passion, and you think that learning in a school environment is best for you and what you need to push yourself forward, then I think it's worth it. I think the loans won't be such a bad reality if you make them *count* and you work your ass off. Knowing that they are looming over you can help keep you focused and working hard.
Some debt is absolutely worth it. There aren't many better things you can borrow money for than the chance to get to do what you love for the rest of your life. However, the amount of debt some students get into at private art schools (easily more than 100k) is risky in the extreme. The general rule of thumb is that you can borrow up to an expected entry level year's wage in the field you plan on entering. You can push that a bit if you're willing to deal with some financial hardship down the road in exchange for following your dreams, but I definitely wouldn't go over double that.
Something else to consider is that if you decide to pursue a Bachelor degree; scholarships exist specifically for students who earned an Associate's degree on their way to a Bachelor degree. The prospect is a gamble, though earning an associates degree, while receiving an aforementioned scholarship, would make the 6k you spent seem more like an investment.
Last edited by Brian Bremer; February 9th, 2012 at 06:08 PM.
Thanks guys. Theres been some great info and advice here. I'll take more advice too if anyone has is. That last post about scholarships for students going into a BA put a good spin on it I hadn't considered.
I have tried for scholarships but I'm pretty limited because of my dependency status with FAFSA and my high EFC I get from a mother that makes a lot of money and doesn't help me. They don't care that I'm on the Dean's List or that I have years of volunteering under my belt. I've tried searches like Fastweb with no luck yet.
When I think about it too, the 60k for BA is to achieve a big dream of studying in Japan that I've had since before I had the dream to study art. I am just worried about the 6 month grace period they give you after finishing school. Does anyone know if you are able to reset that time by just taking 1 class and going part time somewhere cheap?
If so, it's very possible that I could do the loans but still hold off on my BA for 2 years until I'm 24 and no longer branded as a dependent, so I wouldn't have to take out as much in loans for the BA.
Thanks again for the advice. Thank you's all around.
Edit: Theres now a possibility of going to work at my father's business this summer, that can give me one more semester debt free. I'll still need about 30 credits but I have extra art class credits I can probably get credits for when transferring for my BA.
Last edited by WhatsThatSposeToBe?; February 10th, 2012 at 01:39 PM.
Some debts are worth getting into. No one likes debts, but be smart about your money. I'm wondering if you could take a year off to find another job and make money, and then come back to school and finish it?
And be smart about choosing a school and the courses. I regretted some of the courses (and the school) I chose in the beginning. If you want to be a graphic designer (for example), be really, really picky about the courses in particular schools you might consider going to, and talk to the counselors and the people who are still studying GD there. They'll give you good insights for sure. Just talk to the people who study there more than the counselors because they'll really give you the infos you need about the school, the courses, what they regret, what they like, etc.
If you really want to do art, make sure that you know what you really want to get into. Explore everything like crazy, but you might have an idea of what you want to study. Just run toward that, and don't even give it a second thought. Also, you really have to be obsessed with your area of choice. Invest in it thoroughly.
If you want to go into art, you have to be driven. Really driven. Believe me, I've seen some kids who thought that art would be easy and they would get high marks... Oh no. This isn't high school, where teachers just baby sit you and let you draw some pretty doodles on a paper in class.
You will basically have no life for about four years. You will spend most of your days in your room or at the school studios, drawing and painting and conceptualizing.... You will be close with your colleagues and go cruise around the town with them and make good jokes with your profs every now and then, even about your bad artwork although it does sting you a bit. You will work on your art with sweat, blood, and tears to make it at least one per cent beautiful. You will cry and die a little inside when one of your classmates turn in excellent works. Yes, you will see a lot of weird art kids, but most of them are normal and nice (okay, define 'normal' and 'nice' here). You will see a lot of smokers outside, rain or shine. You will see a lot of kids dropping out. Your money will pay for your art supplies instead of food, rent, clothes... At least, that's from my exp.
I don't recommend taking out too much loans, unless you're really out of options. Some scholarships, competition money, and bursaries might help. Some schools actually pay for most of your courses, but I find that rare for art schools unless you're really 'good' and lucky.
If you don't have the money and if you're going into more Fine Arts area, I suggest you take some workshops from artists and start working on commissions. It'll all start out pretty small, but it might become big... who knows?
Is an art degree worth it? The question is pretty broad. But like I said before, you really have to be passionate and driven about art or you'll never make it. You have to throw yourself into it, because only then, an art degree will be 'worth it.' Use every bit of resources the school offers you. Don't waste your money going to schools with bad environment. Don't waste your time doing nothing but smoking cigarettes and partying with your friends every week nights. Be on good terms with your profs and colleagues. Be really driven.
Also, of course talent is mandatory. Some people say you don't need talent to do art. Everyone at least has a bit of talent to draw, paint, so on. But some people are just not cut out to go into the world of art, much less, an art school. If your art work was a stick man three years ago and still is today (no improvement what-so-ever), maybe it's time to throw in the towel unless you feel that you should keep on going because of your passion and can somehow come up with something. At least, this is coming from what I see from few people.
Last edited by Lycoris; February 22nd, 2012 at 06:09 PM.
It is difficult to attempt to find your own way, but I would never go to "school" again, nor do so if I could do it over. If I could do it over, I would just hunt down artists I admire and ask to study with them, or take their classes. Infinitely cheaper than school, and the education is a thousand times better. Especially with art, it is all about the portfolio (and who you know).
"School" is modern slang for indentured servitude.
I self-published a book on the fundamentals of drawing from life.
In my honest opinion the stickies in this section provide real valuable info for people fighting with the same decision as OP. The thing with art schools is that you go there to educate yourself, not to be educated. Thus it's a viable option to attend some loads cheaper one.
I have been strugling with this for quite some time now. As a young teen, my life took some unfortunate detours and i was not able to go to college after finishing high school.
I am an avid reader, driven, articulate, and a very loyal worker. These few virtues and some mighty help from above, have allowed me to have a very good office job in a medical device manufacturing company. I am now 30 and married, with a wife who soon wants to plan a baby. With the high cost of living and this bad economy, i have basically no savings whatsoever that could go into starting an art education. The government won't give me any grants because apparently, a double income home means you are a millionaire! I am extremely passionate about art, i have always loved drawing, and working as a concept artist or on the other end even an illustrator would be my dream professions. Most traditional art schools are great for learning the core elements of draftsmanship, color theory, lighting, perspective etc... But lets face it, all of these things are skills i have been developing succesfully on my own effort and with the use of countless books available from even centuries past. My problem is that, that is only a tiny part of what i see concept artists require. Learning to use PS or painter on your own (for me at least) is like a series of interminable mazes that leave me frustrated and confused. Also the type of skills like product presentation; ideation process; managing project deadlines; the use of the correct tools for the correct situations; project time management; client networking etc, etc, etc... Can only be really learned from a professional already in the field. However, those stories of people learning 'on the job' are things of the past. That might have worked in the late 90's and early 2000's, but now the companies have WAY too many acomplished talents to choose from, and can't afford to be trainning a talented traditional artist on how to turn into a digital wizard. That leaves the only viable option for someone like me to go to one of the few schools specializing on this field.
That's where i take the most offense. For a field that prides itself for not requiring a degree to be a part of it, these schools sure seem only affordable to lawyers and doctors. Gnomon, Art center, the art instute, etc... Why don't they just all move to a pent house in beverly hills and require a black tie and jacket uniform?
I have to say, that overseas vocational schools like FZD seem WAY more atuned to developing talents and getting students ready for the real working environment for a small fraction of the cost of US based corporations- I mean- schools.
The tuition cost at FZD being somewhere around $35,000 USD for the full year diploma in entertainment design, with their curriculum having students IN CLASS alongside the instructors from 10:00 AM to 6:30PM, monday through friday for the full year! Now THAT is worth the loan acquired. Why can't we have that kind of commitment here in the U.S.?
I'm not giving up, i'll try with all my might to learn on my own. But it is really depressing to see posts like the one that started this thread, of a guy, basically being forced into a lifelong oppressive debt, because these unacredited schools are taking advantage of our passion for their own profit. Sorry for the rant, i had to let it out though.
I am VERY offended that a comment i tried to post yesterday was apparently not approved by a moderator. All i tried to do, was to expose how unfairly astronomical the costs of tuition are, i an industry that "Prides" itself on degrees not being a requirement.
It seems that only comments by people encouraging these young men blindly into debt are approved. Well, needless to say, i'm very disappointed to have found that kind of censorship on a site like this. Then again, doesn't this site belong to one of those overpriced, impersonal online schools? I guess i should have known better.
Last edited by Eelis Kyttänen; February 26th, 2012 at 01:57 PM.