Is going for an animation major at an art school worth it? Which is best for your money?

Hi, I’m a junior in high school who is seriously considering to major in animation, however I don’t know if its really worth the debt to go to a good art school for it. Some colleges I am interested in are SVA and SCAD (mostly want to the east coast). If not go to a college specifically for art, I am considering state colleges, Rutgers (Camden) and Montclair.
I know SVA and SCAD have better animation programs, but are significantly more expensive. Rutgers and Monclair are way cheaper because I would only have to pay in-state tuition rates, but I’ve seen their student work and it kind of looks awful compared to the more prestigious art schools.

Rutgers Camden has an art major where you can have a concentration in animation, and Montclair has an animation /illustration program. (Honestly I like Rutgers New Brunswick WAY better than Camden but New Brunswick doesnt have really a program for animation.)

And if I do go to a state university, I will probably try to double major in animation & computer science (the latter is for assurance I have a job after graduating).

The annual tuition & fees of each college for 2017-2018 I mentioned are:
SVA: $38000
SCAD: $35910
Rutgers: $14638
Montclair: $12455
(I didnt include room and board but I definitely am gonna stay on campus for any college)

I really do want to go to SVA and SCAD and I know I really want to major in animation, but is it worth that huge debt? Would it be better to just go to a state university with cheaper tuition and a double major in computer science as a back up? Or should I just take a chance in putting my all in something I’m passionate in to go to an art school?

Also, if I were to go to an art school like SVA or SCAD, how much money in scholarships could I get? I know SCAD gives out a lot of scholarships (thats just want I heard) but I’m not sure. I’m a pretty good student, my weighted GPA is like 5.12/6, my class rank is 12/518, I do a lot of community service and school activities, and my SAT is 1430 (using the new SAT scores). My art is decent, one of my illustrations recently won an award and its gonna be in an exhibit that will tour the state for a year. I don’t really think I’ll get any need-based scholarships, but do I have a chance to get merit based ones from my academics/test scores/art portfolio? Would art school be worth it then if I get any scholarships?

My son just finished his second year as an animation student at SVA. He enjoys the program and has been able to study with professors who have really impressive animation experience. But, as you noted, it’s not cheap – on top of tuition, you’re looking at an extra $15,000 for housing plus extra expenses to feed yourself in NYC (SVA does not have a dining hall). When he was making his final decision between SCAD and SVA, SCAD on paper was cheaper, but it seemed the merit money had a lot of requirements to maintain. We heard many students failed to meet them and ended up paying SCAD way more than anticipated or dropping out. Also, the commute to Savannah for breaks would have added up, while SVA is only an hour train ride away.

Also, for animation majors, SVA has a pre-determined curriculum for first years that is very animation focused - no foundation classes in other areas of art like SCAD. My son knew he wanted to study animation and did not wish to spend more time on other art forms. As his parent, I felt he could find out quickly if animation was really for him rather than waiting a few years to really dive into the material.

So to get to your question, is it worth the expense… it depends… You won’t know the cost until you apply and see what kind of scholarship money you are offered. At SVA, by graduation, most animation majors complete 2 short animations for their demo reels and have experience from working on other student films and internships. Students even have to take a business-oriented class to help them market their work. The school has a great reputation for animation and their job placement in animation is quite respectable. Can you get all that by not attending a stronger animation program? Yes, but it’ll take a lot more work on your part.

I’d recommend you apply to art schools and Rutgers and Montclair and see what happens. When we visited a few years ago, it seems Montclair has been really investing in its animation program and may offer a fair compromise as you suggested - studying animation and CS as a backup. You might also consider University of the Arts in Philadelphia - they have been known to offer a lot of scholarship money to animation majors, although their program is not at the same level as SVA or SCAD.

Good luck!

Check out BYU. Amazing program (hard to get into) and low tuition

the most exclusive colleges of art and design are expensive. are they worth it? that depends on you. as a young student i decided i would find a way to pay the tuition to attend parsons school of design. i wanted to be an art director and somehow i convinced myself that my chances of achieving my dream job would be to train with the best working professionals in the field. as it turns out, i chose well. the state schools will not give you the same experience nor will they give you access to people who are responsible for hiring you when you graduate. which brings me to another point. by the time i was a senior over 1/2 of my class had either dropped out or was asked to leave. the programs at those schools are challenging for a reason. they are designed to weed out the people who will not be able to function in a professional environment. i turned into one of those people responsible for hiring and staffing studio designers. none of them came from rutgers or montclair or the community college down the street. they came from parsons, and some from sva. some came from RISD and pratt. it wasn’t enough that they were accepted to those schools (it’s not that hard), what makes them extraordinary is that they were able to make it to the finish line. it’s easy to get in. the challenge is staying in! there is no way a student coming out of a state college, or non specialized university can compete for a handful of jobs when you are surrounded by graduates who are dead set on making their money and sweat worth it. and there aren’t as many jobs out there as you may think. chances are you won’t make it past HR. think very seriously about this, and if you are certain you want to follow a path in the arts you need to be serious enough about it to invest in a school best suited to train you in that field. again, a state school isn’t up to the task. not even close. and just for kicks let’s say you manage to get yourself through one of those demanding programs. that still won’t guarantee you will be working in design or animation or whatever else you think might be cool. i recently ran into a woman who graduated with me from my class at parsons. she recognized me but i didn’t remember her at all. it was difficult since she was wearing a blue uniform and writing tickets for illegally parked cars on third avenue. she was working as a meter maid. on another day i ran over to bloomingdale’s to have a look at some rugs for my entry way. the salesman was another classmate of mine. ten years had gone by and there they were, making minimum wage. just some food for thought. i’m sure the advice others give you is well meaning, but trust me when i tell you, you MUST choose carefully. good luck.

@katiieAD–Some paragraphs would be nice. It’s nearly unreadable.

If you really want animation, check into a pre-college program to see if you REALLY like it.

Major art schools like SCAD, Ringling, CalArts, RISD (plus many more) are ART schools. You won’t be learning CS if that is on your wish list. They are incredibly expensive. They offer the best education and the most networking possibilities. But there aren’t any guarantee of a job afterwards. That’ll depend on you.

Your “reel” (the thesis animation) will be your resume. The better it is, the better your chances.
With this in mind, look at student work and which companies recruit at the school. Where are alumni working?

You wont really know the final expense until after you apply because of possible scholarship money.

One option which will teach animation (but not the pipeline) is Animation Mentor which is an on-line program (2 years).