Sonoran Desert Institute Reviews
Trust the reviews on Glassdoor. All of the other reviews. This is still a correspondence school and why it was reaccredited is beyond me. First, this is an academic institution yet no one on the leadership team has a doctorate degree. Someone was promoted to an advanced position with an associate's degree! There are a handful of VPs as one reviewer noted who are young people with no previous higher ed experience and no advanced education related to higher ed. The lack of related education and experience is shocking. The "faculty" pool treat courses like this was a correspondence course. They don't participate in discussions or barely do. They provide little to no feedback. And somehow the "leadership" team thinks this is okay. Perhaps this is why the owners just sold the company? My supervisor pretended to be my best friend because I had the advanced degrees and actual higher ed experience. But the minute I would turn my back, I would get stabbed. The amount of gossiping among such a small amount of employees is really unbelievable. I thought I was going to have a career. What I wound up with was a stress related health condition. And it wasn't worth it.
Bottom Line Up Front: this school is HORRIBLE and you WILL NOT learn to be a gunsmith by taking these classes. I enrolled in the Associates of Firearms Technology program and took 5 classes (1 full semester). Every class was structured the same: a b.s. discussion board where you commented on some trivial topic, which is fine, but the instructors NEVER join the conversations or give feedback. The quizzes and test questions are so specific that most the time they are word for word from the text book. So you're basically doing a word search to find the answers to everything. The questions were never about general concepts or the most important things to know, they were always some small detail about a particular gun or repair. Finally the WORST part is there is almost NO video resources. Almost everything is simply self-taught by reading the books and articles. So during your labs if you're confused or have a problem; too bad. Want to email the instructor? Good luck, they never respond in a timely manner and my instructors weren't even gunsmiths so most the responses I received were "I'm not sure, I have to look and get back to you". In all five classes I had ZERO lectures from the instructors. NEVER. NOT ONCE. They simply assign the work and you do it all on your own. They don't give advise, pointers, tell you the common mistakes, what to focus on, NOTHING. The RARE video resources (and I'm talking like maybe 2 or 3 videos for the entire class) aren't even produced by the school. They give you links to YOUTUBE, LOL. Don't get me wrong, the YouTube videos are a lot more helpful than their books, but YouTube is FREE, I already watch Hickock45 and IraqVeteran8888, so when you pay lots of money you expect more than just links to YouTube. Seriously, do not go here. I've learned SO MUCH MORE watching YouTube videos on my own time than the minuscule amount I learned from this school after five classes. Gunsmithing is a hands-on skill. You will not learn it from this school. You won't even learn the basics. The instructors are horrible, do zero instructing; simply assigning work and grading, and all of the work is meaningless busy work to show accreditation folks that they assigned x number of quizzes and tests and discussion. As a final note, I have both my Bachelors and Masters degree. I don't say this to mean I'm smarter than anyone else out there (I'm definitely not), only to say that I've been enrolled in several Universities and all were so much better than SDI. I still had a year of eligibility left with my G.I. Bill so I'd figured I'd give it a shot because it sounded fun and wanted to learn a bit more about guns. I didn't expect to become an expert, but I didn't expect it to be such a joke. DO NOT GO HERE.
Overall I had a very good experience with SDI. The program is completely done online, including the labs. The school sends you all of the necessary books, tools, and items that you will need for each course. You get to keep these books, tools, and supplies as well. For the labs, you use the tools that you were sent and the knowledge gained during the class to complete your project. You take pictures or video of your project as it progresses and then upload those, along with an essay, for your grade in that lab. The program culminates with a weapons build, you get to choose which one you want from 3 different platforms. I would highly recommend this school and program to anyone that's interested in gunsmithing. I had an excellent experience with both.