The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division Reviews
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I am going to start from the beginning of why I am so frustrated with The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online and the horrible financial system that is set up that makes this school a scam for military and their family. I know I am not the only VA student who has been treated this way and deal with this garbage. For the first two years I attended this school I called EVERY time I got a bill and was told over and over again that it was just because the school had not received the VA check yet and that I didn’t need to worry. Obvious lies and the sad thing is that I was told this by a few different financial counselors because I was assigned a new one almost every quarter! Your system is set up so that once a certain amount of money is owed the student is locked out of their classes. This happened towards the end of my first year or beginning of the second year. When I called to see why I was not able to access my classes my then counselor said she didn’t know why and did whatever she needed to do to get me unlocked from my classes. Again there was no mention of money owed. It wasn’t until my third year that I was informed of the amount that I owed that wasn’t covered by the VA because no one bothered to inform me that the VA only paid for their calendar year. So even though I had been asking for two years no one on the schools end was willing or educated enough in their job to inform me of what was going on. Of course I am sure none of this (if documented) is even remotely similar to what I am sharing here since after yesterday’s conversation it is obvious that there is an issue with honesty there. My third year I did get locked out of my classes after only knowing about the amount owed (nearly $10,000) for a few days. After discussing with the financial counselor my options of either coming up with all the money or getting student loans I was forced to get student loans. Then, the counselor knowing that I didn’t want to be attending classes outside of the VA calendar year still enrolled me in a set of classes that were not covered by the VA and when I found out about a week and a half into the classes I was told I couldn’t pull out of the classes and that it was too late! Then October/November of this year I was informed that there was a $2000.00 amount on my account. When I started asking questions it was found out that I had been enrolled in my first session of classes BEFORE the start of the VA year. I was enrolled and started August and should have started six weeks later in September! The counselor knew what was going on and still enrolled me! In regards to the stipend that we discussed yesterday I asked the counselor more than three times how I needed to get that money back to the school…I even asked if it would be easier to mail it to the school because I didn’t want to screw it up. She said no that I needed to contact the lender and they would tell me how to apply the money which they didn’t either obviously because it didn’t get applied to what it was supposed to apparently. For you to tell me that I haven’t been responsible in this, please tell me what else I could have done. Two months ago you and I got my account to finally show a zero balance. Then you tell me last night, one week before I graduate, that I have an $845.79 balance from two years ago and that I have received bills for this, which I haven’t or you would have obviously heard from me earlier. Then to tell me that I have had access to this online?! Well If I have had access to it then you had access to it and it wasn’t there two months ago when you yourself told me I had a zero balance. It is very obvious that this school sees VA students as “easy money” not only did you score money from the VA but I was scammed into also having to pay out of pocket when the whole plan was to attend school and graduating with no money owed. When I talked to Jorge before I was even fully enrolled into this school he even re assured me that I would be fully covered and wouldn’t need student loans. However everyone employed at this school amazingly neglected to add in the part of “Only if I attend school for whatever portion the VA covers”. This school has been nothing but heartache, frustration and disappointment for an average education.
24 months for a Certification in Residential Planning. I love interior design, had already been in the field as a Custom Home Interior Fabricator at least 10 years when I started school. So, my personal experience was very good. HOWEVER!!!! The associate who registered me said the classes are designed for the working adult. 25 hours at the week tops. So, I assume it will be 35 hours. In the next breath he says they are crunch courses however, to get your diploma quickly. This should have been a red flag. But after the end of 2008, my business had just fell off the map. Every designer I worked with vanished - only 3 lol... ANYWAY!!! I was not computer savvy when I started online school.. First class was CP101. Took 55 hours/week. AutoCAD 60 hours a week and my only C, brought my GPA to 3.25. Most of the classes took 55 hours a week. There are four of us at home, my husband has been disabled, so his income is not what he wants it to be, not like when he worked, of course.., our kids were 7 & 11. It was hell. For 2 years. But luckily he was home to manage as best he can, I didn't watch a single movie, only 4 weeks off? Maybe 6.. Still worked 30 hours/week.
I have read a lot of negative reviews of this school, so wanted to add my comments to help people decide. I have an AA from Art Institutes of Seattle and wanted to finish my BA but am a busy working designer and couldn't attend a physical campus. I had a great experience with the Art Institute online, but had to drop when my employer informed me that For-Profit schools are not covered by our company education reimbursement policy and I couldn't do full-time course load to qualify for full financial aid. The school finance people are indeed very pushy, but if you are sure of what you can afford and are willing to finance, you should be fine. Just tell them to stop calling and they will. The instructors were great and we had real online courses with instructor lectures and lots of valuable homework/projects. If I had a financial resource besides just being in debt for full price, I would reenroll. Note: In classes, I did encounter people who were not really qualified to be in class. They do over-accept students. So I could see how people are commenting about the lack of degree "status" from this school. But in the end, for all design jobs, it is your work that counts. A good portfolio, plus showing you put the work in by earning a degree, is all you really need.
The classes are average, but really the finacial deparment is the real joke. They do not give you information on anything they are doing, and have totally ruined me. My advisors did not keep me updated on information that I needed and now I owe for him not turning his side in on time? Why are these people in business? I know I am not the only with an experience like this.
I can't speak for the on-campus school, but I will say the online classes were sub-par, and you are essentially charged thousands of dollars to read. Alot. and then get 'peer reviewed' by other students who may or may not know what they are doing. While there were good teachers there, the online experience trumps any value they may have had as they usually take a forum moderators job and I've had the experience of working very hard to build a 3d model only for the critique to be 'watch those verts'. Speaking of which, most of the information you will learn will be fluff and nothing that can be of use in the industry. I can't tell you how many times I had to go over the same tired 'what's the difference between vector and raster' week in several classes. When I finally got to the areas of knowledge I wanted to learn, 3d modeling and animation, I ended up having to sign up to external courses like Digital Tutors (that at the time only charged 35 dollars per month) for superior quality video instruction. Oh..did I mention you learn everything via text tutorials? They even link to free tutorials on the web like the famous joan of arc on 3d total. I am now in lifelong debt to Sallie Mae (Who is in cahoots with A.i/EDMC/GOLDMAN SACHS!) and am still unemployed and not one step closer to my dream of being an animator aside from what I am still teaching myself. If you have a dream, stay away from the Art Institute. They are charlatains who will promise you a steak and lobster dinner, and when you sign on the dotted line, will throw you spam and ramen and convince you it's a gourmet dish.
I am from Kansas City, and we have a wonderful and well known Art Institute here (Kansas City Art Institute) I have friends who have attended this school and it was looked upon highly by them. I wished to attend this school as well, but due to health problems attending classes physically would have been impossible. I was very excited when I discovered the online school. I requested more information expecting a packet or something in the mail. What I got instead was a phone call the next day from a VERY pushy and overbearing 'academic advisor' although a better name for him would have been recruiter. He was unable to answer any questions I had about the program and school itself, when I informed him at this point I was only looking for information about the school, he continued to push and within an hour had me applying for financial aid, and grants over the phone. It seemed the only answers he had about my questions were about tuition, and had me give a list of people to him that could help me financially. It was going to cost $40,000 for a 2 year associates degree. I was then appalled when he had me sign up for the school online and I was instantly accepted. My friends who attended the Kansas City Art Institute spent months preparing their portfolios to get accepted. All AIO needed was money, no portfolio at all. I then found out my 'academic advisor' did not even live in Pittsburg, but in Arizona. He called me again the next day for another marathon phone call, in which he had me fax over several forms to him. I looked at one paper and saw that in fine print this school is actually in association with Brown Mackey. I called the Kansas City Art Institute, and asked about this program and the affiliation they had with AI Online, and they informed me this program was very much looked down upon by most of the Art Institutes, since they allowed anyone in, and the instructors were not in his words 'up to Ai standards'. I started my first class regardless of this. I noticed not only was the format extremely hard to understand and navigate, that my teacher actually held no degree in art, and incfact lived in southern Missouri working at another college. It sounded like he did this as a side job. He mentioned the college he worked at and when I stated that I knew what college that was and had friends attending it, he immediately deleted the post I had made responding to it. I was then I realized this school was a farce. I then dropped out--and swallowed the over $900 it took to do so. The wanted to charge me $4,000 for the whole semester, but I had a family member call and inform them that I felt I had been pushed into this by the overbearing 'academic advisor'. Since within the first phone call of wanting information, he had me enrolled and filling our financial aid. They did finally agree to only charge me for the one class I had started. I would never recommend this program to anyone. You are paying Art Institute prices for an education not even remotely close to the Art Institute quality.
Pay attention to those reviews that say it's all about money. They quoted me a price at the beginning. Sucked all of my government loans dry. Then as I approached my bachelors degree they suddenly needed an additional $30,000. Basically holding my bachelor's degree hostage. Your instructors are not always professors. Often you get a facilitator. A facilitator may or may not know how to operate the software you are learning. Good luck to you! Passive-aggressive instructors. If you miss an assignment or are late for an assignment a pissing match often ensues. My Major CHANGED right in the middle of the program. There was no effort to compensate me, or adjust my requirements. The additional charges were just tacked on. Classes I had taken at the Art Institute suddenly counted for nothing. Classes I had transferred in were counted against my unit count, but not added to my grades. Therefore I had 18 units with a grade of ZERO. So my GPA looked lower than it actually was for my entire time there. Surveys There is a mandatory survey at the end of each class, but you have to fill it out before the class is over. That's right. Your instructor/ facilitator/ professor gets to see your survey before they issue your final grade. You can imagine that they have a load of positive classroom surveys, but it doesn't prove a thing.
I wish I could have continued on the degree I originally enrolled for. The degree changed midstream.
Get a final number on the cost, in writing. I have had 6 different financial aid counsellors. They can lie to you, because they will be gone when you finally get to a point where you might quote them. There were times when the amount I owed was quoted as three different amounts. My home page had one dollar amount, the statement I got in the mail had another amount, and my financial aid adviser was quoting me another amount.
I signed up almost 2 years ago for an associates degree in web design, since then they have screwed up my classes by giving me advanced before the basics and did not make good for this was still charged 4600.00, they have started my last class before the student loan was finalized without telling me this and now am being billed for 10,000.00.
I am certain that something can be done to prevent this from happening to others and to get these debts squashed so our credit is not affected.
I am looking to find another school, but seems most have the same footsteps. Does anybody know how to complain to the Student loans provider, great lakes ?
THIS SCHOOL LEAVES YOU WITH DEBT! LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS AND DO NOT EVEN ONCE CONSIDER GOING HERE! THEIR ADMISSIONS DEPT. WILL HARASS YOU AND MAKE YOU COME BUT YOU HAVE TO THINK OF YOUR FUTURE!
THEY TAKE IN LOW INCOME FAMILIES AND STUDENTS AND THEN ACT LIKE THEY WILL GET YOU A JOB..YOU WONT FIND A JOB! I PROMISE!
I MADE A MISTAKE BY GOING IN AND GETTING THE DEBT NOW I STRESS OUT EVERY SINGLE DAY! DO NOT FALL FOR THEM! THEY ARE TERRIBLE! I PROMISE YOU, SAVE YOUR SELF FROM THESE MONEY HUNGRY FREAKS!
When I started at this school I was very excited and the first few classes I had we're great, but as time went on I was having more and more issues with classes. Many assignments were often vague in their details and I ended up spending more time trying to understand what the assignment wanted than I spent doing the assignment. It can also be diffucult to get ahold of instructors and receive a proper response.
For a while I was trying to get a hold of my academic adviser so I could start taking more classes, but even after the numerous messages I left for him and emails he refused to call me at the times I would be most available. I work third shift so I sleep during the day, I'm not going to be able to get to the phone in time. This completely screwed up my plans for my education and was partially the reason I decided to leave. The class content ranged from great to completely useless. I honestly don't feel that here is anything I couldn't have learned on my own, in fact most of my learning was done on my own by researching outside sources with much more usefull information.
I understand that part of this is about building a portfolio, but grinding through assignments and not learning anything about industry, with no efforts made to reinforce what your supposed to learn, honestly leaves me feeling totally unprepared for a career in the field.
My final class at the school was a video class using Premier. The program was easy to learn but the assignments didn't match up with the book and all the files were completely screwed up.
All this cost me 30 grand if I had stayed it probably would be looking at a $70,000 bill. I feel this is far to expensive considering the issues with this school.