Is SCAD a scam??

I’ve been accepted to SCAD for film and television. By looking at their website, the school looks amazing, but I’ve been seeing SEVERAL negative comments on it. People saying that its all a scam and that the staff does not care for the students. Is it true?? Is the film program all that SCAD says it is? Is it worth the cost?

I’ve wondered what the placement of all the SCAD graduates is. The web says 99% are employed within 10 months of graduation… but is that employment in a field related to the degree?

I’m not an arts person, but as someone who lives in the South I can say I’ve heard a lot of references to SCAD and what an AMAZING place it is. Given the general reputation, it shocks me that this question is being asked.

That’s the thing… these numbers are self-reported by former SCAD students. So I don’t think a person that is working in McDonalds or unemployed would like to report such thing.

I would take those negative comments with a grain of salt - people use the internet all the time for revenge against perceived wrongs. Google for what graduates are doing and get some real data. “Worth the cost” is such a difficult question - what are your goals? what are your options? What’s the cost to you of financing an education? If your goal is to make a ton of money then no art school is “worth the cost”. It’s an education, it’s not buying stocks.

Use your own judgment, but read this first.

As a parent, I can see through the hype and recognize aggressive marketing. We advised our child not to go to SCAD.

Good luck!

I’ve been really skeptical of SCAD, and after this article, I’m out. If I get rejected from my top choice, my plan is to transfer in, and I think if I went to SCAD they would try to prevent me, so they get my tuition. I can’t even imagine the threats they make to students who want to transfer out. Thank you @DadInTx for helping me make my decision!

The news article @DadInTx shared is very informative. It looks past the marketing hype and into the reality of success in an artistic career.

I do not think you can label SCAD a scam - However, in my opinion, any art school where you are admitting students without portfolios as part of the admission process is probably going to have fewer students succeed career-wise than a program where their past work is part of the admissions process.

I understand their philosophical reasoning for doing admissions that way, but I also think there is a financial benefit too.

My take away is that SCAD has an amazing program and produces industry leaders in their fields. But there is a significant percentage of students that will not be stars in their fields.

Here is an extreme example, and different because you are still getting a degree from an Ivy: Kind of like Yale school of Drama. The alumnae list reads like a whose who of Hollywood and Broadway elite. But there are still many of graduates that don’t experience that level of success.

I think the questions needs to be asked:
Does your student have the drive to stand out in a crowd of talented artists?
Is your student’s passion for their art all consuming?
Do they value their art more that creature comforts (ie - would they be willing to be a “starving artist”)?

If answering yes to questions like that - I think a program like SCAD (or any art school really) may be the best choice.

But if their artistic career aspirations are less passioned - A more traditional BS or BA program might be a better choice.

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I would be very careful to judge an entire school on the financial dealings and behavior of one person. The OP was asking specifically about film and television. I would recommend that anyone investigating any art school to look beyond the school and dig deeper to find out how successful their graduates are in their chosen fields of study. For example, I am lucky enough to know people working in graphic design and advertising who have told me that SCAD produces some amazing talent (they’ve hired many people from there) and that students can get great industry exposure. Art schools excel in different areas, so you have to do your homework to find out what they are and the type of artists that each one produces. A critical aspect of your success at ANY art school is pushing yourself and going after every opportunity you can find and not waiting for things to fall in front of you.

My experience with the quarter class scheduling system at SCAD.

I attended SCAD from 2001 to 2004 studying architecture in the Master of Architecture program. Since I was a student with an undergraduate degree in a related discipline, I needed to go for 3 years to meet the requirements. For anyone considering to go to SCAD I can provide some first hand experience that can help anyone make their own decisions of where to go to college. I am going to list the major things that someone should consider before going to SCAD.

  1. SCAD has the quarter scheduling system. A quarter system class scheduling system is a lot different than a semester system class schedule. A quarter system academic year is three quarters: fall, winter, spring. A full time class schedule is 3 classes. This sounds reasonable but each class is 2.5 hours long. Studio classes are 5.5 hours long. If you schedule a studio class and a regular class back to back you are in class all day. In architecture studio classes. we spent a lot of time discussing our own projects or other students projects with the class which limits your own time of getting your own projects completed.

To make up the time, students have to spend long hours into the night to get their projects complete. Eichberg Hall where the architecture department is located at SCAD was open 24/7 when I was there. Students had to do a lot of all nighters because the quarter system class periods are too long.

I personally did at least 100 all nighters in 3 years while attending SCAD. I look back and consider that torture. I would never go to a quarter system college again. All nighters become a very painful experience after a while. I still suffer from all of the sleep deprivation. I did not waste time going to parties. I worked on my projects as much as I needed to do to do my best considering the time constraints of the quarter system. I managed to get straight 'A’s my last year and my GPA was over 3.7.

Adding to the severe SLEEP DEPRIVATION issues at SCAD, studio classes sometimes pair you with other students. Unfortunately, you can be paired with a group partner or two who never show up to do their share of the project. I remember one studio, my assigned group partner did not show up until after midterms. I did all of the project up to the midterm presentation by myself. The professor asked me, where is your partner. I said, I do not know, I never see the partner after class hours. All of the SLEEP DEPRIVATION at SCAD hurts you after you graduate. DO NOT GO TO SCAD, if you are a good student who wants to learn.

  1. Another downfall of the quarter system is that professors have difficulty maintaining a class for 2.5 hours. I had some professors at SCAD cancel class after about 1 hour of teaching. But I paid for 2.5 hours of class time. SCAD is very expensive.

I also think the quarter system is not flexible. You cannot take extra classes over full time like you can a semester system.

I went to a semester system college for my undergraduate degree. Class periods are only 50 minutes long 3 times a week or 1.5 hours long 2 times a week. Since the class times are shorter I had much more time after class to do my work. I only needed to do 1 all nighter and that was because I was taking extra classes over full time. I was able to take 1 or 2 classes over full time each semester in order to study business classes outside of my major and complete the required elective classes for my major.

  1. Quarter systems are designed to prevent you from taking free classes like at a semester system. At a semester system, you pay for a full class load of 12 credits. Since the class times are shorter, you can easily take an extra class a semester. Since you only pay for 12 credits, that extra class is free. The quarter system at SCAD is virtually impossibly to take an extra class. So, no free classes. I paid for my own college education. I greatly appreciate being able to take an extra class a semester like at the semester system college.
  2. The scope of classes at SCAD is limited compared to a college such as Penn State University. Do your research on what classes a college offers before choosing a college.

To any student considering going to college, I highly recommend going to a semester system college.

I think the quarter system at SCAD is a fundamentally flawed educational system. Don’t go to a quarter system. I regret going to SCAD for that reason.

Since I graduated from SCAD, I have finished the Architecture Registration Exams and became registered. I passed all of the exams one the first attempt. Most importantly, I have not experienced an all nighter since 2004. I do not miss the all nighter life at all. I would never ever consider going to a quarter system college again. If I take any college courses in the future, I will certainly go to a semester system college.

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SCAD is expensive, but it is not a scam. There absolutely are issues for staff and faculty since there is little appreciation for middle-managers and staff. The President and the Vice Presidents have all the say and power. Unlike other schools, faculty are on one-year contracts. There is no faculty governance and there is no tenure. You can be let go on a whim. Faculty tend to complain they are overworked because they are. Little time is available each quarter for them to work on their personal portfolios.

About accreditation: While SCAD is not accredited by NASAD like many art colleges, this is a matter of doting i’s and crossing t’s. One of the worst art schools in recent history, The Art Institutes, were NASAD accredited and were atrocious. SCAD is SACS-COC accredited. They adhere to the same types of criteria – just not art-specific. Lack of NASAD accreditation is a non-issue because it does not really mean a whole lot.

About SCAD letting applicants in without portfolios: First, SCAD offers a plethora of majors: fine art and design and no one declares a major until their second year. Many of SCAD majors – such as historic preservation - do not require fine art skill. Second, statistics show that GPA is the most likely predictor of student success and graduation. A wonderfully talented student with a low GPA may lack the self-discipline to complete a 4-year degree. Someone with a high GPA is much more likely to have the appropriate self-discipline. Every single school wants 4 years of tuition money because students that drop out after one or two years are not as profitable. Third, Masters-level students must submit portfolios before beginning Masters courses. Last, you can learn to draw and design quite well.

For students, the faculty, facilities, and connections can be great - but really expensive because it is what it is, an expensive private art college. If you want to spend $120k on 4 years of tuition, go right ahead, but a better idea might be to complete general elective courses at a local state school first at a much lower cost and transfer in at the Sophomore level. You may even be able to take and receive credit for lower level foundations courses in drawing, color theory, etc.

Don’t many art colleges mean long nights spent working, even on the semester system? There’s a joke among profs we know at another school that 8am classes are rarely scheduled because the kids work late.

^ Yes. Art school is tough and requires many hours of work over and above your contact hours in class or studio. Regardless of whether it’s a semester or quarter system. I had one kid at Pratt (now graduated) and another finishing up at SCAD. Both work(ed) insane hours on their projects. Pratt is on semesters and my D who was studying graphic design had to pull many all nighters. So did her friends, including and especially the ones in architecture!

SCAD’s “expensive” because art school is “expensive.” We told our kids they could go if they got sufficient merit aid, which they both did. But we’ve calculated the cost of tuition and applicable fees for both schools (ie “sticker price”) and SCAD is comparable to Pratt per hour of contact time (ie studio or classroom instruction). It might even be a tad lower. Anyone is welcome to do that comparison with other art and design schools.

SCAD runs at a good clip due to the quarter system and you spend less time in class and more time working independently or attending optional tutorials for extra help. It’s not for everyone. Furthermore, they require you to graduate with at least a 3.0 in your major. That’s hard for a lot of kids, and they get weeded out as a result. I believe that’s why the job placement tends to be very good for those who can make it through. Right now, the most popular major by a long shot is Animation so, all else equal, that major will probably have the most competition in terms of job placement.

For film, animation, fashion, graphic design and architecture at the very least, SCAD’s rankings are decent-to-excellent. For all @quarter2004 complains about the place, it apparently prepared him/her pretty well for the professional world! And that’s really what this kind of creative training is all about.

While I don’t know if SCAD would be considered a “scam” pls remember it is a for-profit school. It exists, not to educate but to make a profit while educating…

Personally, there are other top ranked schools in my dd20 field that are half the cost. Some are ranked higher than SCAD…I just don’t see the cost-benefit.

@engineermomof2 Can you cite the source of SCAD being for profit? The internet references I see state that it is non-profit.

Huh?? No, SCAD is not a scam. It’s a well regarded art school

I apologize…I was wrong - it is legally a non profit.

however if you read the AJC article you will see this paragaph:
“As a nonprofit, SCAD would avoid state, federal and local taxes, eventually worth millions of dollars a year. It has no owner, no shareholders. Under federal law, it is a public trust. But the founders’ earliest decisions ensured their family would control the school and profit from it for decades to come.” basically most posts go to family members, etc…

Given that the president is one of (if not the highest) paid presidents, I have concerns about the institution …(

It is a good school, ranks highly…just not worth the cost imho…anyone is welcome to feel differently

All potential art majors are not making an economically rational decision when they attend any art school. Even those in applied art (graphic design etc.) majors will be entering a highly competitive job market.

@engineermomof2 So . . . the evidence of being a ‘scam’ is that the founder obviously must have set it up that way. Solid reasoning there, LOL.

SCAD is only 40 years old and still run by the family who founded it. This isn’t news. Eventually Paula Wallace will retire and the trustees will replace her with someone else. Pratt is barely graduated from its foundation years.

You may want to check out Pres. Robert Zimmer’s salary at the University of Chicago. For that matter, check out this year’s COA. Scam?

@TomSrOfBoston one way to guard against the downside of a competitive market is to make sure you attend a school with a great reputation and which is willing to invest in you (with merit). Based on my oldest kid’s experience, I’ve observed that those who attend a reputable art program will have the edge over those who don’t. Anyone can enter the “market” with a basic knowledge of the Creative Cloud, but the lack of training will be apparent.

There is no failsafe career in the private sector. Can’t tell you how many laid-off engineering and finance/accounting/marketing professionals I’ve known over the years.

JbStillFlying…you might want to check yourself. I did not state it was a scam

i erroneously thought it was a for profit, which I admitted it was wrong. I just think if you can find a similarly ranked school at half the cost that I cannot justify twice the price.