Is SVA really worth it?

<p>Hello, I've recently started looking for art colleges for my animation major. I live in California, and CALARTS, of course, was my top pick, because the college is a local area from where I live. However, getting in there is really hard, so I also chose SVA as a back up.
But is SVA really worth it for me?
I've talked with a few of my classmates, and as expected, they said living in New York is very, VERY expensive. I never visited New York either, so yeah, I'm kinda debating if going there is worth the money.
Whats it like being at SVA, is what I mean.
Is it worth the expense?
Is it expensive? (not including tuition) (I'm talking about food, dorms, clothing, etc.)
Is a lot of work study available? How is the work study there?
Is the college in a safe area? What do I have to worry for?</p>

<p>Hi, Sivone. My son is starting at SVA this coming fall, majoring in traditional Animation. I don’t know yet if he will think it’s worth it, but I can tell you a bit about what we saw of the school. </p>

<p>It is in a safe area of Manhattan. The 20s are not exactly midtown, but they are business-oriented; it’s situated between the more bohemian areas of Soho and the Village and the very corporate feel of midtown. SVA is split between the east and west side in the 20s. I think most (all?) of the dorms are on the east side, so if you are majoring in 3D animation, for example, and living in a dorm, you’d be traversing 23rd street to get to classes every day. Not dangerous, just time consuming and maybe not great weather at times. (I think I have heard they have shuttle transportation but according to some, it may not run all that reliably? You could probably just walk it or take a crosstown bus.) But it’s not exactly the leafy, green campus experience! </p>

<p>The classrooms I saw are really more like office buildings, with certain floors dedicated to SVA. The animation department on the east side is two blocks from the New Residence (where I’ve heard most freshman live) and it’s an office building, with a lobby, a directory on the wall of the tenants, and elevators. So no gothic stone buildings, you know what I mean?</p>

<p>The rooms in the New residence are set up like most college suites, but small because NY is so expensive. I saw suites with two students to a room, two bedrooms, bathroom, tiny kitchen, and hallway with a table and chairs. Like a VERY small apartment. Housing and tuition and fees, all in, have a sticker price of about $64k. Yeah, I know, GULP…</p>

<p>So…I would think you’d have to be a student who’s comfortable in an urban setting – a bit cramped in terms of living space, getting used to noise, traffic in the area, etc. And you’s have to be not big on the whole leafy, green campus experience, because that is definitely not SVA. This was my son’s first choice, however, because of its animation program. He got into the other art schools to which he applied, but thought the student work at SVA was much superior. I could tell when we visited the animation floor a few months ago, and saw all the students working on their Cintiqs, that he was really diggin’ it. Animation is his thing – he’s been working in it since he was 11 – so he was giving more weight to the program itself than the surroundings and the campus life. </p>

<p>Of course, as I said said – he has not actually GONE there yet, so I can’t tell you yet whether he thinks it is worth it, but I sure hope he does for the amount of money it costs!</p>

<p>Best of luck to you. </p>

<p>thank you so much for the information, but is it okay if you tell me how your son manages in SVA once he enters? :oc Also, do I have to spend a lot of money on food?</p>

<p>Sure! The food situation is still a little unclear to us. They have a cafeteria, but it’s very small, more like a cafe than a traditional college dining hall. I believe there’s some kind of declining balance card you can use to purchase food there. However, since there are kitchenettes in the suites and so many eateries and delis in the area, I got the impression students don’t rely solely on the school for food service. I noticed, walking around the neighborhood, that some of the establishments had signs in the window advertising discounts for SVA students. There is also a grocery store in the area (you could probably buy easy things to make in your suite – pasta, etc.) but grocery stores in Manhattan are not like those in the rest of the country – they are teeny, tiny, with tiny carts…everything is kind of smooshed in Manhattan…</p>

<p>But I’ll surely let you know how things turn out once he’s actually there. </p>

<p>Maybe I can be of help. SVA has two “animation” concentrations in undergrad and one in grad school. They undergrad concentrations are animation,which is comprised of mostly 2 d animation, and computer art,which is most 3d. The grad program which my child was in, is 3d only.</p>

<p>Overall, the animation programs at SVA are fabulous and among the best in the country. They are also among the strongest departments in the school. I have seen their work, which, for the most part, is sterling. Faculty are all currently working professionals in the industry,which does give some better contacts than that found at other schools.
HOWEVER, SVA is a “for profit” school. They don’t give out as many scholarships as that of non profits. They are also quite expensive when you factor in their “hidden” fees. Also , their dorms are crappy. Finally, living in Manhattan isn’t cheap. Frankly, if you are interested in animation from an undergrad perspective and money is an issue, consider non profits such as San Jose State University, FIT, and Pratt. Ringling would be great if you were interested in 3d. You should also check out Rochester Institute of Technology,which seems to have a very interesting program. If getting a good animation education plus getting strong liberal arts is important, consider Laguna College of Art and Design. If money weren’t an issue in that you have rich parents, SVA would be a good choice probably over most of the schools mentioned with the exception of Ringling and CalArts. However, each school has a different culture. You need to visit each school and size up the facilities, culture, placement etc. Personally, I really liked RIT’s program. I also liked that of Pratt Institute,but they tend to be more experimental and fine art oriented and not as commercial oriented as that of SVA. Again, checking out the school’s culture is important since you wouldn’t pick up on this without a visit.</p>

<p>@Taxguy, Hello, I’ve been reading your posts about art schools, and SVA in particular, for some time now with great interest. So thank you for all the information you have provided. I agree with everything you have pointed out. My son, who is starting at SVA for a BFA in 2D Animation in the fall, was also accepted at the other three schools to which he applied: Pratt, SMFA and Mass Art. </p>

<p>SVA was definitely the most expensive of all of them, and we are shaking the couch cushions to get him there, but he did feel its student work was a class above (or several classes above) what he saw at the other schools he visited, which also included RISD. (In fact, he was so unimpressed by the animation studios at RISD that he didn’t even apply there. What do I know? I thought, “But, honey, it’s RISD!!” He rolled his eyes.) </p>

<p>Everything you mentioned was exactly what we experienced at SVA – stingy scholarships, expensive everything. The dorm for freshman is really not bad in terms of crappiness, but it costs over 15K for the year and you can barely turn around in the room. But that’s Manhattan – you eventually get used to everything being so tiny because space is at a premium.</p>

<p>But all that aside, it was his choice to go there, and I hope he’ll be happy there. He’s an interesting “art kid” in that he’s not too artsy (or, as you said, experimental and fine art oriented). I would have thought SMFA and Pratt were just too artsy for him. (I know, it’s supposed to be artsy – it’s an ART school??! But even so, there are degrees on the spectrum.) Since SVA was originally started as a school to help returning GIs break into advertising on Madison Ave, you can sense the commercial art bent. Which is a good fit for him. </p>

<p>About the for profit status: I think, scholarship stinginess aside, that the important point is that the school be “accredited”, which SVA is. A lot of the for profit schools we see popping up all over in advertisements may not be accredited. So that, finances aside, may be the more important distinction to look for as opposed to “for profit versus non profit.” </p>

<p>Now I’ll go back to shaking my couch cushions and checking my old coat pockets…! :-)</p>

<p>Thanks again, Taxguy.</p>

<p>Good luck to your son, haveaharp. My daughter loved SVA for her grad program. She had great teachers and good industry connections. I don’t know much about the undergrad BFA in animation other than I liked the student work that I saw. As for RISD, we weren’t impressed with the student work in animation there either. </p>

Not worth the cost in the long run. I went there for Undergrad - graduated in 2008. It is by far the worst decision I have ever made in my life. If I could return my degree and do it over again, I would. On a positive note, the teachers, for the most part, are interested in the work and put in a lot of effort. It’s just not worth spending 120,000.00+ on. If you don’t come from money (a lot of Money) don’t do it. Trust me…I pay 800+ a month just to cover the interest on my student loans.