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I need some objective (or perhaps even educated) advice here.
I've seen all of the negative and pessimistic opinions on the Art Institute schools, and I wish I had seen them a year ago. I've been attending the online division of these schools and over the past few months, I've started getting a very uneasy and unhappy feeling. To put things in perspective, I'm a single mom of two kids, working part time at the moment because our hours all got slashed at work and live 50+ miles from the closest physical art school. I found AIO and thought it was the perfect solution. I was pretty happy with how things started; the financial aid crew really worked with me and advised me that by only taking 3 courses per session, I wouldn't have to pay anything out of pocket, worked my books into my tuition and gave me a software package before classes started.
The past few months though, I've had a 180 on my opinion. My financial aid advisor hasn't been doing a whole lot of advising. When I filled out my FAFSA for this year, I was apparently selected for Verification. My advisor never notified me of this. I emailed and called him repeatedly, asking him why I had no Pell Grants showing, etc. He kept putting me off, saying it hadn't completely updated. It wasn't until I stumbled across the page that I realized that I had to fill out a Verification Worksheet and fax in a copy of my income tax form. I did so the day I realized this and it was going on a month ago.
Earlier this week, I email my advisor and ask him what the status is. I get nothing in return. This morning, I emailed him again, clearly quite aggravated, and he said that he had submitted for the final approval last week and was waiting for approval to post my Pell Grants. I write back, thanking him for getting back to me, and then proceed to ask him about my FSEOG, Institutional Socrates Grant, and a few other things. I'm starting to feel like I have to remind him of how to do his job.
As an added insult to all of this, I'm carrying a balance of about $800 because apparently someone scheduled me a class that took me over my the credit hours covered by my financial aid at some point and now I have to figure out how to pay the balance while supporting my kids.
I'm really starting to reconsider my decision of pursuing this goal. I really want to get into game art and design, or something of the like, but I'm feeling more and more discouraged with all of this. I'm limited to online courses because of my situation and location and I'm starting to think that AIO wasn't such the perfect solution I thought it was.
Should I transfer to another school? Are there any decent ones that will offer what I'm looking for? I figured if there was anyone that could help out, it would be this community. I've found some great direction from lurking here but now it's time to come out of lurking...
It sounds like you are the type to be able to self study, how about doing it on here? This is a great place to be since there are a number of people here that can and will give you pretty good advice, as good as any school would.
Start a sketchbook and start posting.
I've been few more than a few tight financial periods in my life as well, so I can understand how the money issues are an immense burden and may seem to be overwhelming everything else.
I'd suggest asking yourself a series of questions before making any changes:
Do you feel you're learning course content at an acceptable rate?
Do you feel your work is progressing towards a professional level at an acceptable rate?
Do you feel properly supported by the instructors?
You may need to start up a sketchbook thread and share your work here for feedback if you're uncertain of the quality of your work at this moment. If the answer to the three questions is "no", then leaving this program is an easy and better answer than staying. If the answer is "yes", then it gets more complicated.
If this current batch of issues is cleared up, are you able to continue?
With 'yes' answers above, this should set your path, if they've really messed you up with the extra 800.00 charge and they're unwilling to fix/address this, you just may need to extricate yourself from this institution.
Can you expect similar problems to continually arise as this program progresses?
If you answer 'yes' to this one you should explore avenues to end your relationship with this program. Be careful that they cannot try to come after you for penalties or hidden extra charges for quitting. Some local (Toronto) institutes had some sleazy practices that hurt the students who realized they weren't getting what they were paying for and left before graduation.
Do take full advantage of the help freely available here at conceptart and let me know when your start your sketchbook thread.
Best of luck,
Thank you both for your input. It's really giving me a chance to sit back and think. I've posted a sketchbook with a few pieces that I actually have available on this computer and I'll try to post more in short time.
I'm definitely going to sit back and actually try to answer all of your questions, Richard. I'm really trying to give them a chance at fixing the $800 problem but at the moment, my expectations are low.
Thank you again for the input. I appreciate and welcome all others as well!
Just realized I forgot to put a link to my sketchbook! http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=163439
Last edited by Alice612; July 16th, 2009 at 10:05 PM.
read the truth about art school thread. all your questions are answered there.
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Thanks, Jason. I'm in the process of reading through it as we speak. It's quite enlightening, I must say.
So I'm updating here and hopefully soon I'll be able to update my sketchbook. Stuff has been incredibly overwhelming here of late with connection problems and life rearing its ugly head and stuff.
Basically, I ended up withdrawing from classes a couple months back. It was actually a really difficult decision, mostly because of the money I have invested at this point. I'm now at the point of having to decide whether to re-enroll or not. I've completed the re-admission application but I'm still really on the fence... With as much money as I have invested, I'm not so sure it was all worth it... I understand with classes like this, it's a lot about what you put into it but when I look at how much I've paid out, I feel like I knew a good portion of what I've already spent thousands upon thousands upon thousands to "learn".
I'd love to think that I could self-study and use some of the classes available here ( I'm going to try very hard to take advantage of that sale this weekend! ) but I'll be the first to admit that I'm a very ADD person. I can suffer from being incredibly disorganized and I feel many times, I need someone to be held accountable to. I guess that's why I thought that going to school was something I should be doing. Being stuck with online as my only option, this seemed to fit the situation but now, I'm still really not too sure. I guess I wish it didn't seem so surreal to be spending this sort of money, the type of money that I've never seen in my life and the type of money that as a single mom of two kids, I could see put to use on them rather than this...
Hmm, i got to Art Institute of Dallas...but i've never had any problems. I would suggest looking to a large state university, they usually offer online programs.
As far as art goes...its really crucial to get live studio time because there is nothing like having a teacher stand behind you and direct you as you draw.
i would suggest asking for another advisor rather than make an assumption and further compel (what i believe to be bloated) assumptions that have been made about AI.
I appreciate your opinion and I can say that I honestly take them all as such. When I started, I did have a very good opinion of AIO. I had some bad experiences but I'm sure that I'd have bad experiences at any school. It's not limited to just AIO (I've been to two other schools, one a traditional university, the other a tech school and had issues of some sort with both) and that was only a minor factor in my decision. These issues that ended up revolving around money while money is a major downfall for me really made things difficult. I honestly would love to continue on with things and continue to give the chance that things are going to pick up but for me at this time in my life, I can't afford the price tag that comes with taking that chance.
This weekend I'm going to try and set myself a plan and see where I can feasibly get myself.
I'd suggest the self learning path for a while - it's cheaper and more affordable for you in the long time (because of your kids). Either path you chose, i wish you good luck on the plan you are planning to do!
I totally agree with the comment, "why not do it here?". CA really can function as a school if you use it the right way and it's free of all those hassles you're talking about with financial aid. Best of luck to you.
Thanks guys. We're getting ready to move into a new house so after painting and moving and getting settled, I'm going to buckle down and try to use here as a means of learning. Hopefully I can lessen the impending failure I keep threatening myself with for leaving school again. I figure if I'm learning, I won't feel so bad. I know there's a huge wealth of information here and I plan to put it to good use!