Let me start by saying that my situation won’t apply to everyone but I’ll try to be as objective as possible and explain how I ended up there.
I came to Canada with a graphic design degree from Ecuador where I worked in the industry for several years.
I came to Canada with a graphic design degree from Ecuador where I worked in the industry for several years, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to see what the art schools here had to offer since it is a sort of sad truth that you are going to have better options at finding a job with a Canadian degree rather than one from (insert your country here).
The first one I went to was the Art Institute, and after reviewing my portfolio they said I would be able to just go through the last term but I needed to take three classes from the very first term that were essential and non-challengeable. I happily accepted and went through those (a complete waste of time by the way since the teachers they had were really, really bad) but when the time came and I was supposed to go to the last term, their true nature came out: they told me that upon “careful review and consideration” they had decided that since I had graduated more than five years before, I was not up-to-date with the current tendencies and I needed to go through the whole thing again… erm… seriously? With all my experience, I could be teaching there!
That’s when it hit me: it’s a business, they’re a piggy bank, they only care about your money; and a couple of foreign guys in there were having the same predicament with the same lame excuse from the board of directors. It was quite obvious that what they wanted was money, plain and simple. Bear in mind they are ridiculously expensive, the whole thing was gonna cost me over $30,000.
The New Kid on The Block
Naturally I left, continued my search and stumbled upon the Vancouver College of Art and Design, the new kids in the block. They happily took me in (sure, being new they needed students, so why wouldn’t they?) and they did allow me to skip through most of it and I only took the last two terms, and they are way cheaper than the AI.
So, my review is going to be based mostly on those two terms. By the time I joined the rest of the students, many of them were really pissed off at the school, complaining about unbelievably lousy teachers and utter disorganization; some felt ripped off and dropped out, but the ones that stayed were still hoping for better times, and it kind of paid off.
The good thing about the school, is that you can tell they are really trying to better themselves.
The good thing about the school, is that you can tell they are really trying to better themselves, and the campus director has always her door open and is willing to listen to you and do something about it. I can in all honesty say that they did improve during those six months I was there, good teachers were hired (some of them are seriously good), the classes were improved based on our input and the facilities as well. Sure, they still have a long way to go when compared to well established universities or colleges, but they are on the right track.
The Graphic Design Program
The pensum is broken down into 6 terms covering pretty much everything you need, from art history and drawing to basics of web design and a good coverage of Adobe Creative Suite 4. I recently went there to visit some buddies and to see the new installations and they’re not half bad. Classrooms are much bigger and better organized with overhead projectors so everyone can see no matter where you’re sitting, a couple of the labs have new Mac computers, there’s now a kitchen area with a big fridge, sink and microwave and tables and chairs. As usual you’re welcomed to use the labs whenever you need (provided there’s a computer available to use) and the tech guy is there in case you run into trouble with the computers, printers or scanners. And the price is still less than the other art schools. About $900 per class.
In general I would say the experience was positive and they have a lot of potential.
I did learn some new things, I did have (mostly) a good time and all and all I felt it was worth it. And the best part is that just 2 weeks after the graduation they got me a job, because they do try to place you in the industry. In general I would say the experience was positive and they have a lot of potential, so unless you are a really demanding person with tons of money, this is an unpretentious school where you would most likely get your money’s worth.
Hope this helps.