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My daughter applied to animation grad programs. We ruled out SCAD because she didn't want to live in Georgia and fell that the contacts weren't really there as much as with SVA. However, we did check out SCAD. I am going to compare RIT to SVA because I found SCAD a lot like SVA. I will also try to be make comparisons between SVA and SCAD.
OK where should I begin. Let me give pros and cons of each program:
1. RIT Pros:
* Great, broad-based program. You will certainly learn all aspects of the animation pipeline. However, the same could be said for SVA and SCAD.
* Three years to get all the skills that you need. This can be both a pro and a con since you also have to pay three years of room and board and fees.
* Develop three films while there
* They are good with scholarships and could end up being much less expensive than SVA.
* Tenured professors ( don't know if this is good or bad). Both SCAD and SVA don't give professors tenure.
* Has significantly better facilities than SVA or SCAD. RIT has a great gym, better green screens than the other schools, and much better housing. In fact, they see to have more of everything when it comes to facilities. They also have a campus. Even the buildings, in my opinion, were in better shape at RIT over what was found in the other two schools. Moreover, there are more audio and video rooms available at RIT than that found at the other schools. I also felt by far that RIT was in the safest location among the schools mentioned.
* More cohesive community. Lots of clubs and associations.
* Being a non-profit, they give out more money than that of SVA and probably more than SCAD. This tend to have lower tuition. Room and board is much cheaper than living in NY city.
* Department heads and administration is much warmer and you get a warm furry feel from everyone.
* RIT has some interesting other majors such as glass that you can take courses in.
* Much better and more numerous programming courses over that of the other two schools if that is of interest to you.
* I saw their student work. We really liked RIT and came in with the perception that we really wanted to like the student work at RIT. However,with the exception of the "Painting Thief," we didn't like most of their work nearly as much as that of SVA. This really bothered us and was a real turn off about the school! I should note that we also liked the work that we saw at SCAD, just not as much as we liked the SVA work.
* Connections are more limited that that of SVA. Lets face it. SVA is in Manhattan. They have to have more connections with studios in NY than RIT. Other than Disney, there aren't a lot of big name studios coming to RIT. I think this will change in the future though. SCAD claims to have lots of connections;however, I can't imagine that it really rivals SVA being in Manhattan. Lets face it, the work is in either LA, NY or Texas and somewhat in Florida. Being in Savannah has to be more limiting for internships even if firms do interview there.
* RIT has a "guild like"structure for their courses. There aren't a huge amount of electives. You generally must take the courses required and get to choose a few electives.
* Lots of snow and very, very cold winters.
2. SVA and some SCAD comparisons
* Very well connected school in NY and particularly in Manhattan. SCAD is probably more connected than RIT but less than that of SVA.
* Better Ranked than that of RIT in every ranking that I have seen. Same for SCAD,although SCAD was particularly well ranked about 5 years ago in one ranking, which is why we wanted to check out the school.
* Student work at SVA was significantly better. SCAD work was good but not as good as SVA. RIT had the worst student work among that found at these schools.
* They have MANY more students who have won awards such as Student Academy, Siggraph winners etc at SVA. Can't speak for SCAD but I am sure they have some award winners too.
* All teachers are working professionals in the field. Not sure this is true for SCAD
* Overall probably better grad student quality due to their international reputation. Don't know if this is true for SCAD.
* Living in Manhattan has to be a LOT more fun and enriching than living in Rochester. Let's face it. Living in Savannah or Rochester isn't too enriching.
* Only two year program,which makes up for the higher yearly costs. In fact, this almost will equalize the cost between RIT and SVA. I think SCAD was a three year program.
* Curriculum is more flexible to the student's needs. There are only 7 required courses plus the four thesis courses. RIT also has four thesis course that are taken in year three. Thus, if you come in with some strong animation training, you can take just the courses needed to beef up the concentration that you want. Also they allow you to audit any one course per semester for free, whether it be graduate, continuing education or undergraduate.SCAD is also more guild like than that of RIT,but it does offer a number of elective options and perhaps more than that of RIT.
* We clearly like the student work at SVA the best compared to that of both RIT and SCAD. SCAD work came in second based on our evaluation. RIT was a distant third.
* For profit school. Thus, every thing is more expensive. However, Surprisingly, the tuition and fees for SVA vs. that of RIT, without counting scholarships, is within $1,000 per year of each other. Also , they don't give new student scholarships. They are a lot tighter with their money for scholarship than that of RIT. They do give semester scholarships to the top 10% of the class each semester though. SCAD is a non profit,but they are run a lot like their "for Profit" cousins, but they do give some new students scholarships.
* Cost of living in NY is MUCH higher per year. Savannah and Rochester are much cheaper to live.
* Much less students. Thus, not a lot of clubs or associations, although there are some clubs. SCAD has a lot of student clubs.
* Administration isn't as warm and friendly as that of RIT. SAME for SCAD
* Much more of a trade school feel. Same for SCAD
* No campus, although Manhattan is your campus. SCAD is a city school too.
* No Gym, swimming pool, game room etc. If you want this, you would need to join a nearby gym in Manhattan. Don't know about this at SCAD
* Dorms are crappy compared to that of the apartments at RIT. You are better off renting a room somewhere. Commuting by train isn't bad or expensive in NY. SCAD dorms aren't nice either.
* Stand alone art school. You won't interface with other types of student such as engineers that you would meet at RIT. Same for SCAD
* Just a note, although I found the SCAD facilities quite adequate, the location in Savannah, is HORRIBLE. Normally, I wouldn't mind this for city schools such as Columbia, Cincinnati etc because many city schools have an enclosed campus where the building, and getting to the buildings , are safe. However, with SCAD having no campus and having buildings scattered around the Savannah area, I would really be hesitant sending my kid there. You have to check it out for yourself to see if you agree with my judgment.
Bottom line: If you have a strong background in either animation or 3d computer graphics, SVA or maybe even SCAD might be the better program for you. If your background is not that strong in animation or computer graphics, don't go to SVA because I don't' think two years,which includes the thesis , will be enough time to make you a master animator. You will be much better off attending RIT or even SCAD.