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Help comparing art pre-college programs

PugPackPugPack 1 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member

Developing artist son is trying to decide which art pre or early college program (ECP) would be best for him. His skills are developing nicely in drawing and painting and he'd like to expand to animation as well. Any evaluation or additional information on the programs below would be a great help -- especially from recent attendees!

Here is what I am trying to understand about each program -
1. Technical versus creative emphasis? (Son wants to develop more technical skill.)
2. Develop valuable additions to portfolio?
3. Attendance at all helpful when and if student applies for undergraduate program?
4. Supervision versus freedom. (Son and I may have different perspectives on this!)
5. Is the animation program good?

RISD: I understand the least about this 6-week program. Although RISD is highly rated, I have seen very mixed reviews on the ECP. Some say that it is a big mix of serious artists and kids whose parents forced them to attend. I don't have a good sense whether the student walks away with serious and valuable additions to their portfolios and whether the emphasis is technical or not. This program actually ends after my son starts back to 12th grade so I would only send if seriously good ECP.

SAIC. 1,2,3, 4 week programs. A lot of great reviews regarding this program. Many students felt they developed great pieces for art portfolio. Housing is located away from the campus and this makes me a bit nervous especially hearing that the program involves a lot of late nights.

CSSSA (CalArts) 4 week program. Competitive program so I assume the kids who attend are seriously interested in art and the price is much more reasonable than other places. (We live in California and it accepts mostly in-state.) Supervision seems good because the campus is small and somewhat isolated but I haven't been able to decipher whether the classes emphasize the technical or are more about creativity.

Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota (3-4 weeks). Touts its animation program. I am embarrassed to admit the name (funded by the circus family) is a stumbling block in that it makes me think of a school of clowns not artists!
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Replies to: Help comparing art pre-college programs

  • gouf78gouf78 7777 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    Ringling is certainly not a clown college (that's across the street!).
    My D went to Ringling pre-college and ultimately graduated from Ringling in the animation program. It's very tough and competitive. Ringling (3D) and Cal Arts (2D) are the top animation colleges in the US.

    But back to the pre-college program...when my D decided on animation I didn't really know much about the field and decided she needed the program to test whether it was a good career choice for her (before I dropped some big bucks!). Let me say she ate it up and never looked back. Her art in HS was very good but by the end of the program it had jumped by such leaps and bounds that I couldn't believe it was the same person creating it. That made me a believer in Ringling. Most of her portfolio were done during those weeks at Ringling. Drawing from real life and portraying action are key for animation so that is the emphasis (versus still life/painting for example). And you get to see if you like sitting in front of a computer 24/7 (not everyone's cup of tea some discovered).

    You'll pick two immersions from their list of tracks for the program. CA is very popular and the classes are limited in size so it's important to register early to get your choices.

    If your son at some point decides to apply and is accepted to Ringling the pre-college hours will count towards graduation. I can't say if taking pre-college at Ringling gives an edge in admissions (besides boosting your skills of course) for CA. The acceptance rate to CA specifically (they also have film and game design majors in that vein) is around 10%.

    Supervision vs freedom? Don't know if this answers your question but 24/7 art, classes, projects keeps one pretty busy (D's time was filled completely--immersion was the right term) and housing is on the campus and everything is close by. Campus is great.
    edited December 2014
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  • ragbharagbha 2 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I don't know too much about any of the programs you mentioned, but I attended the Carnegie Mellon Pre-College Program for Art and Design in 2013, and I absolutely loved it. Also, the program offers 8 classes, I had drawing, animation, sculpture and comm. design in the first 3 weeks and ID, painting, printmaking and photography in weeks 4-6/

    1. Technical versus creative emphasis?
    Depends on class to class. Greatest emphasis is on the process of making artwork. For example in my industrial design class, we had one project. We spent majority of the three weeks working on the design, making prototypes, etc rather than working on the final product.

    2. Develop valuable additions to portfolio?
    I'll be honest with you - I did not develop as many valuable additions to my portfolio as I would have liked, but this may be because I was a junior then and I feel I have improved a lot now.

    3. Attendance at all helpful when and if student applies for undergraduate program?
    Yes. Evaluations are kept on record for undergrad applications.

    4. Supervision versus freedom.
    Aside from 11pm/12am curfew, fair amount of freedom is given.

    5. Is the animation program good?
    It could have been better. It was more like a beginner's class, but since I knew nothing about animation before going in to this class, I think it was alright for me. If your son wants a multidisciplinary program, this is the best out there. If he wants a purely animation based program, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.
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  • astute12astute12 663 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    Sorry I am just seeing this today. My daughter attended CSSSA in theatre this past summer. It is highly competitive, (1 out of 3 acceptance rate) especially in the art/animation areas. Accepted students are named California Scholars of the Arts and received a nice medal. Also, the price is right at just $1500 for four weeks. I work at CalArts and can say that their program is wonderful, especially in animation. Several CalArts profs teach at CSSSA as well. If your son attends CSSSA and then decides to attend CalArts, CSSSA will give him a 10K scholarship. My daughter enjoyed CSSSA -- it is very intense. Supervision is good, the kids are allowed to walk in groups to a nearby shopping mall, but there really isn't much around there and they work them all day, so not a lot of free time. CSSSA is considered a big deal by CalArts, so if your son is interested in attending, it is definitely helpful.
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  • MazeArtCrewMazeArtCrew 179 replies18 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Sorry, I just saw this today. My daughter went to Ringling's Pre-College program, and I am so very glad. She worked very hard, got a lot out of it, and discovered that she wasn't interested in 3D animation but in Motion Design. I know that the work she produced is important to her portfolio. (Ringling was notated by 2 different reviewers when she attended a National Portfolio Day.)

    Ringling is known for connections in the industry, and the facilities are top notch in terms of technology. My daughter worked very hard, but I also heard stories from her about kids goofing off (she took the month very seriously, and was surprised that some did not.)

    She got a lot out of the program including a top notch professor recommendation. Their college animation program is highly rated, one of the top 3D animation educations. CalArts animation program is known for 2D animation (if that helps your son make a decision). The program was a lot of $ for us with a son in college, however we know that it was money well spent. Her confidence, portfolio, commitment, and direction all grew hugely. She loves fine art, but also loves storytelling, 2D animation, and working with graphics on the computer, so Motion Design/Motion Graphics is a great fit. I hope that wherever your son goes, he finds a direction as well!

    Also, if it helps, she visited Carnegie Mellon - she LOVED the fine art facilities - they are more typical of what you would expect for studio artists, and also loved the "vibe" but ultimately decided that she wanted a more commercial versus a fine arts emphasis in her education. She also visited VCUarts (Virginia Commonwealth University Arts is a highly regarded program) and I saw their facilities as well - excellent facilities as well.

    I recommend Ringling.
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