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The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division Reviews

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Student & Graduate Reviews (70)

2 out of 5
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Graduation Year: 2005

Let me start off by saying that I am a Graphic Designer both full-time and part-time. I have a degree from AI Online – Game Art and Design, an Associate’s in Art Studies from a comm. college, and I am a self-taught artist from a very young age. I am a huge proponent of putting in what you want out of college.

I really wish I could recommend this school as it has so much potential but I can’t. AI was great as I can say I have a degree in the field, but beyond that, the only positive I really got out of the school is the fact that it allowed me to work full time and it gave me a great portfolio.

I chose AI because many of the colleges at the time offered graphic design as a major based in “fine arts” - I wanted my degree to be based in computer. AI teaches computer graphics via Game Art and Design AND allowed me to maintain my fulltime job while attending classes without a scheduling conflict.

I have several personal complaints about the school but I’ll keep it to the main issues. Note that these key points I’m citing are concurrent with other students as well.

1) THEY MAKE IT VERY DIFFICULT TO TRANSFER IN COURSES: I have my Associate’s and several other courses, but I only had enough transfer over so that I only had to attend for just under the 4 years of the 5 year circuit. They don’t mention that you can use work experience to substitute for class experience, and if you do you have 30 days to apply for it upon entering the SCHOOL not just the semester (unless the rules have change sense). Though that part is in writing, it’s buried somewhere among the FinAid paperwork under the fine print.

2) THEY CHARGE INTEREST: Yes, they charge interest on their tuition payment plan. Even if you have a student loan which is guaranteed moneys, if that money is releasable after a particular time from they’ve designated but don’t discern, then they charge you interest for your out-of-pocket expenses.

3) YOU SPEND MUCH OF THE TIME TEACHING YOURSELF: You don’t actually have to study for these classes or purchase the books in order to pass. It would have been nice if the courses at least offered video tutorials on what to expect if you truly don’t understand a subject, but they don’t.

4) STAYING IN CONTACT W/ PROFESSORS IS DIFFICULT: Professors are rarely available at their office number provided. Some do supply you with a cell phone, but usually they’re hard to track down as they’re never there - most teaching at other universities.

5) 90%+ GRADUTES GETTING A JOB IN THE FIELD: Umm, no. That little factoid isn’t contingent on anything. If you already have a job in the field prior to attendance or just after attendance (i.e. haven’t really started taking any courses), you’re counted too. There’s no way to tell who actually gets a jobs based on the skills they’ve received from AI.

6) WAAAAY OVER PRICED: College is expensive enough, but the school is on-line. You’re paying for your own books, your own computer, your own programs, you’re not using their facilities or materials save for wherever they have a server farm to host the classes, you don’t live on campus, you’re professors are only there long enough to read the materials you’ve posted so they don’t have to actually be present anywhere, sooooo why does it ONLY cost about a grand or two less than a traditional college? On top of that, the cost of the degree way out paces the cost of the job in the job market. Designers traditionally are only paid $25K-$45K a year. The degree cost near $100K, so compound that with interest on loans, you’ll be paying that off for quite some time, if at all depending on where you live.

Bottom line is that they are a “for-profit” school. Honestly, because of the simple fact that you can teach yourself there AND that the professors teach at other schools, should tell you that you’re paying way too much for a degree from AI. If you want the convenience and pay for it, be my guest, but know you’re field. Take the time and buy a book - there’s plenty of FREE material out there with a simple search on Google, About.com, YouTube, Wiki, or any of the thousands of free tutorials out there. Employers honestly don’t care where the degree comes from they just want to know that you have a degree in the field and that you can show what you know. That’s it. Just make sure you research your school and find a curriculum that fits what you are trying to do, and put a little extra effort in on the side.

1 out of 5
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Graduation Year: 2012

I attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division beginning in December 2009. For the past year and a half I have experienced nothing but problems, unqualified teachers, inadequate financial aid advisors, poorly trained academic counselors, and overall a terribly run school.

I've been dropped from classes for FAA's inability to do their job, I've had over 23 AC's who refuse to return your calls or emails. The best part though is the unqualified teachers, who, if you have a question or need clarification, do not respond to your request for about a week (6 days after the assignment is due), and then tell you to GOOGLE the answer!!!

My financial agreement stated I would be "investing" approx. $19,000 per year...yet, in the year and a half I've attended, I've paid well over that...over $67,000. My "investment" has been in a school whose credits will not transfer to a state university and who's accredition was falsely stated.

I have contacted the Dean of Academic Affrairs, who forwarded me to the Academic Affairs President at EDMC (parent company). While he was nice enough, he made many "promises" to prevent my withdrawal, of which he failed to keep a single one or even fix the problem[s] in the first place.ter shot at getting a job after you graduate) go to a state school or university. Believe it or not, but after speaking with multiple professionals in the Design industry, each and every one stated they would rather not hire at all if their choices were only The Art Institute of Pittsburgh graduates.

To anyone who reads this, all I can suggest is that you do your homework. College is such an important investment in your future, and while the majority of negative reviews I have read about AIP are true, do your own homework first. Speak to professionals in the field you want to study and follow their suggestions. Those are the people who have been successful, not the academic counselors at AIP trying to recruit you! Best of luck.

4 out of 5
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No matter how many negative posts are put up here, the bottom line to all of them is the price. All of the other issues talked about is hot air. I am enrolled at AIO and I have had no issues with anything other than the thought of having a large dept after I am done. The best advise I could give is when you get those big stipend checks in the mail, pay a portion, half, or all of it back to your loans. Do not spend it on clothes, crappy CD's, or that new car you wanted to lease. If you really look at it they give you the money to pay them back. If you are some sort of single parent that depends on the stipend check each three months to pay for everything other than school, than you probably should not be in college in the first place.

If you have been in the same field that you are going to school for (telling yourself "it's a refresher") 20 some odd years, go to a CC or take a weekend course; why would you even think about going to a college that teaches you things you already know? It's like a fish trying to teach a Dolphin how to swim.

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4 out of 5
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I had to take an online class from AI due to the lack of classes within my major at the actual campus I was attending. I ended up taking a Creative writing class, which was anything but creative, and dropped it before the first week was over. Why, good question, after several attempts to get the instructor to provide examples or url links to their work after several attempts to track them down via google had failed.

If your paying $1800 a class it's not unreasonable to expect to find something, anything online out side of the AI online site to back up the competency of the instructors. After a few days in the class I became suspect that the instructor hadn't even written the material for the class as the sentence structure was completely different from their comments or replies.

Sadly, this doesn't stop with the online classes, but is also true for the actual class room instructors aswell. AI hires instructors (in most cases) who's only prerequisite is a Masters Degree and a pulse. Most have never actually worked in the field they are teaching and I found myself constantly having to correct them when it came to basic fundamentals in art, design and Adobe software.

Out of the 10 classes I had at AI, only 2 teacher actually seemed to be full time professionals and part time teacher, the other 7 were full time teacher with little or no experience in what they were teaching, and zero web presence. I google all instructors for a class I'm paying for at any school and have found some schools actually provide you with website urls for their instructors so there is no question of their credentials. My advice to anyone attending an AI campus or Online classes anywhere is to get out and research schools via google and include the word "scam" afterwords to and see what other people are saying. Then research the instructors at these online schools. Professional artist have web presents, they have a website, you can see their work and know if they have the actual skills to be teaching or are just posers.

4 out of 5
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I have read probably around 100 reviews here on this school and I would have to agree with some that those who are complaining either, A. have little to no experience with other colleges, or, B. couldn't hack it and dropped out only to blame the school for their struggles. AI Online is a great school with a very solid and challenging curriculum.

I am a second-year student with AI, and am also a very skilled photographer. Each and every class I find that I am learning very important aspects concerning my photography and it never ceases to amaze me just how valuable my classes are to not only my education, but my photography as a whole. While it is expensive, it is a great option for those looking for online studies in pursuit of their degrees.

Google my name and "photography" if you would like to see some of my work. I firmly and sincerely give credit to AI Online for the leaps and bounds I have taken since beginning instruction at this school.

4 out of 5
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I can hack it. Anyone can, as the courses at this school are absurdly easy and un-challenging. I've managed to get great grades without *EVER* reading *ANY* of the books or online materials they provide, which I find disturbing.

Furthermore, I'm not a drop out, in fact, I'm still enrolled and attending for my Bachelor's and I'm rather mortified by what I'm learning about my school.

That said, I simply can't recommend this institution. They are grossly disorganized and I've even been put in the same class twice because of a mix up simply caused by the fact they slightly changed the name of the course. The process of getting me out of said class was long and annoying, wasting my time for weeks. I've *almost* ended up in the same classes multiple times as well, aside from that incident.

In my experience, academic advisors at this school are extremely disorganized and often don't have their facts straight whatsoever. I was told by their website I would graduate in January 2011, only to hear from my new advisor that was a mistake and I'm not to graduate until December 2012!! More money for them. My girlfriend also attempted to attend and their rude, apathetic and incompetent advisor failed to inform her of a very large, additional sum owed until it was a mere week before it was due. The school made no effort whatsoever to rectify this or chastise the lazy advisor, despite his very obvious negligence. So she didn't even get to start.

Sadly, I'm envious of her because I haven't learned a single thing at this school I didn't already know about my field (Graphic Design) and now I'm on the hook for a ton of money. I will say the teachers are usually nice enough and helpful, however. I have, although, had a few lame ones that seemed to know less than I do about the subject matter.

You'll switch academic and financial advisors often, and they might bother to inform you. You'll get charged for books even if you don't need to buy them to get through the classes (and you never will - the online courses almost NEVER reference the accompanying texts).

You'll get weird bills in the mail for expenses you've never been spoken to about. The only bright side there is *most* of the time if you call them up and complain they'll claim it was a billing error and you don't have to pay. Although, this leaves you to wonder how many of these "erroneous" bills they send out and accept money for.

I would strongly advise avoiding this school's online division. I can't speak for their physical locations, but the digital incarnation of this school is extremely disorganized, misinforming and honestly rather shady.

4 out of 5
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Please, if you are considering attending an Art Institute, or the Online Division, think again. I graduated with an associates from the ground campus and attended online for a few terms recently. The curriculum is outdated, the credits don't transfer and the tuition rates are outrages. Look into community colleges or online schools that are affiliated with real, non-profit schools.

4 out of 5
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I have had similar experience with the bad situations that AIO presents. I chose to withdrawal because I did not feel I was being "taught" or challenged in any way. I was getting an "A" in my last class and not comprehending ANYTHING and it was clear that I wasn't grasping the concepts.

Yet my teacher passed me and said I did great on every assignment when I clearly failed it according to the score. When I chose to withdrawal I started seeing that AIOnline slacked on my financial aid, classes, and recently a transcript request. I won't get into too much detail but basically they took me out of a class I confirmed because someone processed paperwork improperly, then I lose my financial aid because of this, then they took my money for official transcripts and never mailed them.

This could all be a coincidence but I can't help but see other people have similar experiences on EVERY review website I go to. I don't ever write complaints but I really suggest to do serious research before choosing Art Institute Online.

I was also bamboozled when I applied because I was told I would graduate sooner than I was told 3 years later that I would. It seems people just float through this school and the education some might recieve isn't nearly what they are paying for. I have now changed majors and will be attending a community college for a way cheaper degree and I hope a better experience and education than I was/would be receiving at AIO. I wish I had something good to say, but I do not.

I also want to add, I am not a drop-out who couldn't cope..I am someone who would like to spend money on a great education to help me do something better in my life not pay $80k and then say WTH did I learn?!

4 out of 5
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I attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh campus beginning in 2005. This school really pushes itself as the preeminent source for creative post-secondary education with all its advertising, but in reality, what you get is a completely useless education.

What they teach you is in no way realistic as far as professional settings; students are either taught incorrectly or not enough, and since the school craves money in the same way as a vampire craves blood, they will accept and graduate people who in no way have the skills to actually work in their field. I've seen people turn in stick figure illustrations in an Advanced Illustration class and still get a good grade.

AiP will shuffle people through classes - many of which are the same classes with different names - and force them to take the full 180 credit hours (bachelor's degree). Have you credits from another school, like for math and English? Sorry, but AiP isn't interested in your crafty money-saving techniques - they want you to take their superior English and math classes at $487 a credit.

AiP is far more interested in getting money out of people than it is helping people get closer to creative careers. First of all, the tuition without housing costs included is over $22,000 a year. Housing is $2100 per semester. And they push people to borrow money they can't get through Sallie Mae, and that agency itself is nothing but a huge headache.

Don't get wrong, the teaching staff is overall good - some bad instructors here and there, but everyone's generally nice. But these people have no clue what they're doing, and you'll end up with skills that are absolutely worthless in the professional art world. In fact, some employers will actually specifically not hire Art Institute graduates because of how bad the schools' reputation has become.

And before anyone rolls their eyes at the probably drop-out who couldn't handle it, I graduated from that cesspool with academic honors and as an NTHS member...and I got a four-year degree in three years despite taking about two semesters worth of non-transferring classes (from before I switched majors). Hmm, you know what they call a school that only cares about getting your money and lets you finish a degree in noticeably less time than it should take? A diploma mill. This place wasn't even accredited until 2008 - don't colleges need to be accredited before students can get financial aid via FAFSA to attend them?

If you want to go to college for art, do not go here. With housing costs and never repeating any classes, my degree cost over $100,000. Ivy League schools don't even cost that much.

4 out of 5
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I am a current student at AIO and I love it. After reading reviews, I had to write my own. While some things students have said are true, such as changing of advisers and the very compact course, many things I've read I think are simply from their personal bad experience.

I am a stay at home mom with 2 young children. I have an associates degree from a ground university and finally decided to go back to school to finish my bachelors. I decided that online would be better for me so that I could do class when I had time and after doing some research, decided on AIO. I'm currently a full time student and while at first, the 5.5 week time frame was very intimidating (3-4 assignments due per week, per class) once I got into the groove of it all, there was no problem at all.

Many people are saying that they haven't learned anything from class or learned more on their own... well it's an online class, what exactly did you expect? Of course you are teaching yourself. While there are a few minor areas that I feel like more learning would have been helpful, if you take the time every week to read what is there for you, read your text books, watch the instruction videos, there's no reason you should have any problems completing your assignments. The teachers I've had thus far are very quick to leave feedback on your assignments and constantly remind you of their office hours in case you need some one on one time. Some of my teachers even take the time to put your work into a video where they go over it and verbally explain what you need to change or what is great about it.

There is no doubt in my mind that some people have had trouble with this... as I said, it can be very overwhelming, but if you do the work, read the material and actually want to achieve your degree, you will. You have to be motivated and self disciplined. Don't expect to be able to log in once or twice a week and do well, it wont happen. Imagine physically going to school once a week instead of MWF like you should; chances are you wont do well in that class either. Some people need everything in black and white to understand it and if you are one of those people, then AIO probably isn't for you.

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