Academy of Art University Reviews
Student & Graduate Reviews (62)
AoA is an extortion house, basically a money making machine. The cafeteria food is sub-standard, where you have to buy their meal plan if you are staying in the dorm. so where the dorm fees seems reasonable you have to buy expensive and sub-standard food, there by increasing AOA's profit margin. Health insurance was shoved down our throat at the last minute although I (and all international students ) already had got insurances. Quality of study is something I am exploring now (I am in the third semester), based on 3 semester I have attended I can say the future is not going to be stellar.
A few decent classes, most are not at all useful to your major or have real world applications but are in place for the sake of profit. Note I only spent 2 years here, I did not complete my degree. I made the difficult decision to take all relevant classes but not complete the fine arts courses that are required for the degree. I saved over $15,000 and have not had issues finding gainful employment due to incompletion. I have contracted for google and apple, brought a company public, and am now consulting for McAfee and USAA. I started out of school in 2012 at 55k a year, then 75k a year, then 130k + rsus as a design director. YOU WILL LEARN USEFUL SKILLS HERE. I honestly would have just been good at photoshop if I hadn't taken some solid base courses here. A major component that helped further my design expertise was having my work constantly judged and compared against my peers. Viewing others work, drawing inspiration from them, and evolving your own skillset was invaluable. These exercises alone are probably responsible for my success and worth the money, kind of. One thing to keep in mind is that the market and skillsets required evolve. In 2012 the curriculum was heavily geared towards Flash for coding, and studio / agency work for design. There were no UX Research, Data Courses, or Product Design courses offered at that time.
I have transferred to SCAD after completing half of AAUs online MFA graphic design program. I noticed over time that more and more foreign students were entering classes. To the point that most fellow students seemed to not speak or write good English. I also noticed the caliber of teachers also degraded over time. One teacher actually assigned her own book as the required textbook for the class! Seems like a great opportunity for her to get paid a little extra from book sales. Another teacher, Jeremy S. may have incredible credentials, but he can't teach a class to save his life. I was told not to take another class along with his because the workload is so intense! How is that right? Students need to be able to take more than one class a semester. I left AAU, and they came out with an MA program. I said I would give it a shot. Same experience... bad teaching. I said at the start of the class I was concerned. They said to stick with it. The class was poorly designed. Information was unclear and scattered. I requested to find an alternate solution.... let me drop without penalty, let me take the class with another teacher in another semester, the school could come up with a solution, or I will go and never return... I chose the later. Don't go here unless you don't care about how these teachers make you feel and don't care if they have zero interest in you actually graduating.
Do not go here, especially if you are considering taking out student loans to attend. Their on campus classes are hit or miss, and their online classes are a joke. Full-time online students only have a 6% graduation rate, and part-time online students only have a 3% graduation rate. Their estimates for graduation and employment rates are greatly skewed in their favor by using loose definitions and inaccurate sources of information. (They don't include online students in their numbers. They also count "freelancing" as employed, and consider word of mouth and social media a source of employment information.) Even if you do manage to graduate, art careers generally don't pay well until you have quite a lot of experience under your belt. Meanwhile, you're drowning in student debt until you can hopefully earn more money. Counselors only care about enrolling you in as many classes as possible per semester, and the admissions counselors only care about admitting you and collecting the fees. The massive amount of money you will spend here isn't worth it. I implore you to read the articles about AAU in Forbes and Huffington Post if you are considering attending here.
The financial aid advisers are awful. It made me think it was a scam. The last one, J.W., is extremely rude and told me to basically ignore my high school work and sign up for some grant. Which I couldn't because 1.) I need my student ID which wasn't scheduled to be given to me until one week before classes start and 2.) My high school graduation work was currently more important than a grant at the moment. I don't think that entitled person understood that my graduation literally depended on that project. I am only taking two courses online for a semester. $115,000 per semester! That is a scam. I do not recommend signing up at all. Just go to CalArts instead.
Please please please, do yourself a favor and don't go to this bulls*** school. I'm not going to badmouth all the teachers because honestly there are a few (and I do mean a few) good ones, but 75 percent of the classes are complete BS. I had a professor once who would come in and sit at a table in the front of the class and do nothing- no lecture, no discussion, just NOTHING for WEEKS on end. One time I my advisor went on vacation without letting me know, and without activating my account, so they pulled me out of class and basically told me to "get lost or pay up." Online classes are by far the worst of the worst, copy pasted from shoddy sources, and the discussions are all super basic because 80 percent of the people who go to this school are not native English speakers. I seriously cannot tell you how many times I've heard basic instructions repeated to me; like how to pan properly on a tripod, or how to set up 3 point lighting, or do a script breakdown. Honestly if you go to this school you'll end up hating yourself, so do yourself a favor and find a more honest, well-priced university, or just get a job and learn that way.
This school is just interested in taking your money. They do not put time into their majors and curriculum. Everything is a fee before actual education. The schools safety is a joke. It's in the heart of downtown San Francisco and students are always in fear of walking no matter the time of day. Housing policies are also a joke.
The teachers at Academy of Art are amazing most are working professionals. Most of them take the time to help student understand mediums and foundation. teachers are always willing to help. The financial aid, counselors are a bit of a mess, i felt like i was constantly being juggled and forgotten there were many glitches in the system and I was forced to take classes i dint want to take due to lack of communication. financial aid can be helpful and understanding of financial situations. I enjoyed the school and feel I have learned a lot. I would recommend this school for students who can financially afford the city/ bay area as well as supplies and classes. Working more than 1 job is difficult with work load of a full time student and you will fall behind quickly.
They have classes others don't which are good, but some have BOGUS YOUTUBE curriculums and material that your advisor might recommend. I could feel hands in my pockets as I was told how to shake hands and greet someone, sew a straight 4 inch line on a standard machine, that BOGO is a great way to increase amount of units sold. Triple DUH!!! You'll be finished and think wow I might've learned more in a weekend or at a community college. SO be absolutely skeptical of your admission/academic advisor. I came in with transfers and was told I'd finish in 2 years which turned into 4 years because a professor thought I needed to learn to scrapbook the AAU way not even kidding it was ridiculous. A teacher who wanted to really help their students would've said let's set up a time for a crash course and get you on the same pg...I should've left but I'd already moved to sf. There are countless shared stories similar to this amongst students across majors. There have been lawsuits in the past...They're good at their PR I'll give them that. Beware. If you're going to spend the amount they charge for tuition, just be warned. I wish I knew so I'm putting this out there. And for fashion students who want a free fashion show, you compete for this incentive and your designs are not completely up to you.