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Thread: California College of Art (CCA)

  1. #1
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    California College of Art (CCA)

    I'm considering applying into CCA's graphic design undergrad program. Any opinions/insight on the school or the program?
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  3. #2
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    Feb 2007
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    I don't think you'll get much here considering it is a forum for "concept art" but I'll help you nonetheless.

    I'm considering going there next year, just considering my options financially that is...

    I'll share you some opinions from people I've emailed about CCA and their GD program:

    It was an amazing experience and i could not imagine going to school anywhere else. They have a solid traditional foundation that in the second half expands into the more experimental arena. The icing on the cake is the thesis class at cca. Nothing else like this class exists in any other undergraduate design program. It forces you to think beyond the established notion of designer as content organizers and become a content creator. The designer as author. This lesson was invaluable and now we are never afraid to have a voice or to venture into uncharted waters/disciplines. Let us know if you want more. But we would strongly recommend CCA for school.

    As far as my own insight into the program I can tell you
    that before I decided to transfer to this school I had done thorough searching
    into the US's big "Art Schools" RISD held my interest for quite some time but
    ultimately CCA was the best fit for my criteria... You see I had been working
    as a Designer for a few years and most of my education had come from
    experience and a little Community College in Salt Lake City. After a while I
    realized that I didn't even enjoy the work I was doing... it held no interest
    for me and seemed basically soulless... design purely for design and I wasn't
    okay with that. Personally I feel that a degree in Graphic Design is a Degree
    in Graphic Design regardless of where you get it ... at least that is how most
    employers will feel but what I found at CCA was a program intensive in concept
    and intensive in what YOU are looking for in design... what is it and what
    could it be? You see I hadn't been thinking about my work previously I had
    just been working and how is that any better then an hourly job at a Call
    Center? (aside from the pay of course) With what's available now as far as
    technology goes... anyone can be a self-proclaimed "designer" but its that
    understanding of what your doing and how it's going to impact whomever it
    reaches and communicates to that get's you the job you want and the
    satisfaction that is necessary... at least for me.
    I think your decision as far as where you go to study GD will depend on what
    YOU really want to do with design. I recommend CCA's program because it will
    deepen your understanding of the profession and enhance your work beyond what
    you are currently capable of.. but all of that will only happen if you bring
    something to the table and know what your working towards. SF is one of the
    hot spots for graphic design and the instructors at this school reflect it, it
    provides the opportunity to make valuable connections (if your willing) that
    can get you an ideal internship and an ideal job once your out. I'm not going
    to sugar coat the fact that the tuition is expensive. It's something to
    consider. I would recommend you schedule a time to drop in on some of the
    courses and perhaps meet with some of the instructors. But the key here is to
    know what you want. And of coarse that will change as you progress but you
    have to start with something. Obviously some sort of passion brought you to
    Design, it's within you.. it's just a matter of defining it for yourself.
    While this is by far the most difficult semester I have even been in (which you probably know from my posts) I am very happy at cca. The gd department is run by some very successful designers who also happen to enjoy teaching. I've had teachers who work with gap, nike, apple, pixar, and many other big companies. But what really attracted me to the school was its focus on concept. They really push you to explore ideas and not just go with one of the first few things that pop into your head. There is also a level of professionalism that I like. The teachers treat you like a fellow designer, not like some inept student. It is easy to form friendships with your teachers here.

    This is touched upon in the first two levels. Level 3 consists of piling on the work to see how much you can handle, culminating in a gallery showing of all of your work. Level 4 is almost purely concept. The teacher push you to try you methods of craft and to get out of any set styles you use. Level 5 is thesis and 6 focuses on transition to profession practice.

    That being said, there are some negative things. All is not wine and roses at cca. As of now the gd department has only one small open studio area for students to work in outside of class (not counting computer labs). We're actually getting people to write letters to the dean in an attempt to gain our own locked room where we may work and house gd dept-specific printers. The plus side is that the department takes the opinions of its students seriously so we might actually work something out. Cost is also a valid issue. I love it here but it is damn expensive. I live completely on loans and am thinking about balancing school with a job next semester.

    The school does offer some very nice scholarships and grants, some based on academic standing and some on your portfolio. The equipment is fairly-state of the art (we just got a lazer cutter and a 3d printer) and is upgraded often. And lets face it, when you are selecting a school you are esentially just selecting whose name is on your degree. Cca is a recognizable and sought-after name in the gd world, at least on the west coast. The school is known for generating good designers who usually end up forming their own firms.
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