San Francisco Institute Of Art Review Essay


10 United Nations Plz
San Francisco, CA94102
(888) 493-3261

I wanted to update my review to show my appreciation for this school 3 years after graduating. Before I proceed, I do want to set a disclaimer that after graduation, I did become a full-time employee for The Art Institutes, but as of this writing, I am no longer with them, so this review is solely my experience as a student first. Also, this is a review for the Art Institute of California - San Francisco, in San Francisco, California. I have no knowledge about other Art Institue campuses out there as they may operate differently. After being out of school and reconnecting with many old friends from high school, sharing our college experiences, even with those I graduated with from this school. If there's anything I realized, it's how much I've grown as a professional and an adult thanks to going here. I would not exchange the experiences I've gained from coming to this school. What prompted me to rewrite this review, is recently EDMC (parent company of the Art Institutes) has sold the school to a non-profit organization, in which brought hopes to me that the school will once again strive to be this great place that I remember my freshmen year. I know the people that run this particular campus care so much for its students, but hands were always tied thanks to the corporation that runs it. Kudos to the leadership at this particular campus. But enough with that, you're probably wondering if I'm in the field I want to be now. Well here's the reality. No matter what you do in life, you may start with a goal, but then that goal grows and changes as you learn. In my case, with an interest in photography, but enrolled into the film program. As I went along my journey, I discovered that I was a very technical person, and loved technology and art. I'm now an IT Manager/AV Expert for a major NGO that focuses on improving the lives of people in developing nations. Is it related to what I've learned? Somewhat- yes. I'm applying the Photoshop, HTML, design language, to name a few that I've learned from school to my position now. In certain cases, I'm called upon to film major events. All these skills that I've learned from school are now being applied in the real world, in a career I love. In short, I may not be in the exact field I majored in, but the narrative is, I'm applying the same skills that I've mastered into another field that I enjoy. My advice for you incoming freshmen is to build a network and take in everything you'll learn because no education is a waste. They can be applied to many other jobs that you may have never even heard of. How are my loans? I've paid them off. Yes, that was my top priority when I graduated, and I've put basically 70% of all my checks to pay off my loans in 2 years. It's achievable, don't let it scare you. The legitimacy of my enrollments and current career? You can find me on LinkedIn/jlrumohr or my website at jlrumohr[dot]com - I still get offered side film/photo projects so still pretty much in the game. Given another chance to choose the Art Institutes or my local community college, I'll gladly choose Ai over and over again.

Between the high costs, poor location, unprofessionalism of some teachers, it's not worth it. Teachers can only speak negatively about students and the Deans see that as valid criticism. You're better off teaching yourself or going to a UC or CSU. Hell, a community college is a better option.

I like this they helps me a lot. Only problems location is sucks :( all drugs users and drugs sellers here :(

Do not go to this school. You will never be able to refinance your debt because the art institute is not accredited with the right accrediting to be seen by the banks as a reputable school. It is accredited to give you a bachelors degree buy also crippling debt for the next 30-50 years

I would just like to add that there have been a lot of changes to the Art Institute over the past year with faculty layoffs and school closures. There are some great programs here, especially the Advertising and Graphic Design program. However, I still stand by my previous statement that in order to succeed it is dependent on your own hard work and efforts. Even with the changes the faculty has improved quite a bit.

I can't recommend this school for a plethora of reasons including the fact that I drove 3,200 miles to get to the school for the start of the MFA program, only for the school and the program not to be ready yet. I racked up thousands of dollars of debt just to get through the semester waiting for them to get things ready. I do not feel the education I received there was adequate in preparing me for a job in my field. I spent 4 years in retail upon graduation, during which time I taught MYSELF and eventually obtained an entry level job in a career not pertaining what I went to school with Ai for. Thats right. I re-taught myself with new skills for a different focus, and got myself a job. The school didn't do anything, and they have the audacity to still spam me with mailings encouraging me to go back to school with them. I struggle to make my student loan payments for the debt this school put me in, and I am exceptionally disappointed that this company is allowed to continue. I will never be able to afford a car, a home, or anything because of this debt, and the inability to find work pertaining to my MFA. If you're even considering this school, you can do better finding a school that will actually prepare you for your career-- or you can teach yourself with the endless supply of free online resources and much more affordable classes that focus on the aspect of the animation field you want to work in. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do yourself the favor of looking elsewhere. You can do so much better!

2 terrific updates: 1) This location is closed, where's my refund? 2) City College now occupies this space! Yay!

If you value your time, money and don't want to contribute to Goldman Sachs who are simply making money off of you via student loans and subpar education, STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM THIS SCHOOL. Phoenix University or even any local junior college is a 1,000 times better than going to AI. Seriously. You will regret wasting your time by going to AI. I repeat. DO NOT GO TO AI.

They are great teacher's who actually spend the time to teach you and build up your skills for your future career. Teaching off based on their experience and knowledge. The only thing I hated about the school was the staff, they were rude and just only wanted your money. Even trying to call the school no one even picks up, even leaving voice mails doesn't do anything. Even stopping by account services she demands the money within a few days. Like where the hell can I get $2,000 in a week? Non-stop calls trying to know when you'll give the payment for the quarter. Then the next quarter starts and another $2000+ is due again. They even have a class that prepares you for college. As if I already gone through it in high school. I had to pay for a five-week class that all we did was "How to be successful in College" when in reality we did a scavenger hunt. Really? I had to pay to sit there and listen to things that were already known. Overall it didn't felt like a college experience, it felt like I was repeating high school again. If you value your time and money I wouldn't recommend coming here. Go ahead and apply if you want, but as for my opinion, it wasn't worth it in the end.

Being a graduate from this school I have mixed feelings about this place. I truly believe in the power of education and usually that's dependent on the quality of instructors (teachers) you get. Classes don't mean anything unless you're interested and motivated. Rely on the teachers to get you the education YOU desire. This school is in a great location with easy accessibility in and out of the city with the Civic Center BART located right downstairs. The school itself doesn't require a portfolio for acceptance so in that sense this school is for everyone. That wasn't an attractive part of signing up for this school. If it were my choice I would've gone to another college altogether, BUT I did get the education I wanted and made sure to use resources provided by the school and instructors to get it. Shop around before choosing a school and make sure if has EVERYTHING you want, considering it's your education and dime.

Great teachers and staff. Price is typical for a private school. Those who could afford it will be sucessful.

I'm really glad I read these reviews before moving ahead with the enrollment process. I recently attended an open house for this institution. The presenters/recruiters were very positive, friendly, and optimistic. They offered coffee, refreshments, and even a light lunch to participants. They gave a tour of the facility, which seemed impressive (except for the outside on Market Street where homeless and other sketchy looking characters congregated around the UN Plaza fountain, where the street had just been washed of the perpetual urine). Two burly security guards stood at the entrance to the building, which gave a sense of protection from the outside world. We got to visit a "class" (just for us) where an actual instructor gave a lesson in our area of interest. The lesson was interesting. Throughout, the instructor alluded to a high level of employment of AI graduates in local gaming companies and animation studios, and also mentioned that the school provides help to students for a period of 1 year beginning 6 months before graduation. Then the group was led to a room filled with computers, where the tuition and fees were summarily discussed, and promises were made that each prospective enrollee would be assigned a personal financial aid advisor to make the financing easy. We were then invited to apply to the school right there, online. (No physical materials were distributed during this session). At this point, some of the visitors asked some pointed questions which the presenters deflected, almost defensively. For example, when one person asked if students could take their general education classes at a acommunity college and then transfer to AI (an obvious cost-saving move), two of the presenters said that they had "no idea" what classes could be transferred, and that each invididual's transcripts would have to be looked at by a board of "analysts" to determined what classes could be tansferred. They were pointedly not helpful on this point. Another parent asked who they could speak with to know what general ed classes would be transferrable, and again the feigned general ignorance surfaced. It seemed clear to me at this point that AI is not interested in allowing students to save money by transferring units of general educaton from community colleges. This made some of the other Yelp reviewer's complaints about AI's money motivations seem all the more real. They were also not forthcoming (even when asked) with statistics about how many graduates got industry placements after graduation, or where they were placed. Neither did they elaborate on how the school could help graduates network, over time, to remain employed. They mentioned that graduates could "register" with the career placement office, but presented little understanding of how this would work, or whether there is a fee for this service. After hearing other reviews, I wonder if there is any career placement sevice at all. My overall impression was that of a hard-sell, front-loaded marketing effort to get people into the school, but, where the rubber meets the road, I was not convinced of either the utility of the educational program nor the support provided by the school to get graduates employed. Other Yelp reviews seem to confirm my suspicions.

This school is a scam. Most of the teachers & faculties are ignorant and rude. Always blame the students if anything come up. If you call them, nobody pick up. If you email them, nobody bother to reply until a week later. If they decide to take a leave, no voicemail stating who to contact, and nobody in the school know either. So you end up stuck cannot do what you need to do because you must wait for the correct person to reply. SHITTY SERVICES. Do not think they care for you as a student. They only go after your money. And the fact is that sad. The AI systems are closing down one by one, and they are under investigation for fraud.

TLDR; DO NOT GO HERE. Loved: -Teachers- 90% of whom have a SERIOUS passion for the arts, their students, and making sure you are learning and loving it. -Other students- Who often times teach you more than you could get out of the class itself. -The advisers- My adviser for my major was awesome, and really cared. I didn't have a close relationship with her, but I know a lot of people who did, and wound up in much better places after AI than I did. -The Student store staff- The store itself is slightly over priced, but the staff make up for it. They're really nice, and helpful, and it was always great to go down and get advice on things from Damian. HATED: -Location- be prepared to be accosted by people if you have a 6-10pm class on the walk to BART! Hell, be prepared to gather the thickest skin possible against 'have any change' and 'got a cigarette' and that shitty saxophone player. -Price- oh god, I owe more in student loans than I did on the first house I bought at the bottom of the housing bubble crash (house was tiny and 72K...7 years after graduating and paying loans on time every month, still owe more than that). -Hard sell lying assholes- 'It'll be 22K a year for tuition, and you're done in 3 years!' 'Wow okay that sounds reasonable!' They forgot to tell us it was 22K per THEIR year (9 months), as it's 3 years to do a 4 year degree, going to school year round (no 3 month summer break). That means it's 88K, NOT 66K! -Student Housing- DO NOT DO STUDENT HOUSING. For fucks sake, I paid $800 A MONTH to SHARE A STUDIO IN SHITTY DALY CITY HOUSING. That's right. SHARE A STUDIO. Found out later on that those studios were renting for basically $800 a month on their own. So AI was cramming TWO students into one studio, and basically pocketing the change. Thanks AI! -Career Services- Graduated in 2007, immediately set about finding a job. I sent out easily 60 applications in the first month, and called career services half a dozen times. They finally got back to me something like two months later, with jobs I had ALREADY APPLIED FOR MONTHS AGO. Real help there, guys. Thanks. :T Do not go here. The staff, students, and people in the student store are really awesome. The advisers are stellar, and in general the people here want to see you succeed. But the curriculum isn't enough, the equipment isn't enough, it's just not enough overall. Don't go here. Save your money, your talent, your hard work, and go elsewhere. Seriously. Don't become a bitter AI alumni like so many of us.

I recently came here to accompany my boyfriend for his acceptance interview. Honestly, his admissions counselor is a GREAT sales woman. They really know how to pitch that damn school to you. She knew we were only there for the weekend (we're from Miami) so she hurried and made my boyfriend apply on the spot to "hurry the admissions process". Mind you, there's a $50 fee due on the spot and a $100 fee due in like 10 business days from then, which apparently the $100 IS refundable. He decided to apply and paid $50. When we came back to Miami, he looked into CCA and it seems like he'd rather go there if he's going to be spending tons of money for art school. Well, the admissions counselor called him to follow up, and he told her he was interested in CCA and wanted an honest opinion from her about that school. WELL.... She ended up saying crap like she "read him wrong" and that "he wasn't as driven as she thought he was". What kind of shit is that? She basically told him that she was disappointed and made it seem like he was a waste of time. How god damn unprofessional. I'm talking about you, Fritzie. PS: Juan, the financial advisor, is top notch. Such a great guy.

An enormous waste of time and money. My daughter was very interested in transferring to this school. We currently live in Southern California, so this would be a stretch. Spoke to Palka Kumar who is in admissions and was quite polished in her sales pitch for the school. Although some statements made by her seemed untrue, we made arrangements to fly up for a day to review the school and housing. I should mention that I'm a graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious commercial art schools in the world. Upon arriving at the school, which is in one of the most undesirable sections of the city, we were met with a former student, now focused on admissions. Our tour was underwhelming, to say the least. Facilities were primarily designed to provide the illusion of a useful education, while the whole time I got the impression that this for-profit institution was far more interested in maximizing profits than providing a true education. We then took a bus to review the housing facilities. Again, traveling through some of the most undesirable parts of the city characterized by barred windows and barbed wire. We got off the bus in an area guaranteed to make you clutch your belongings closely and move smartly so as not to be mugged. Making our way, via another bus, to a nicer area where their housing was located, we were more impressed with the block leased apartments than the school. We had a scheduled interview with the head of the department that my daughter was interested in, but he decided to not show up and blew us off. Palka's comments were seemed more like lies than truth and I was promised a call by the absent department head. Follow up was non-existent. No call from admissions; no call from anyone. And, while my daughter and I had a terrific time in the city, this "school" should be avoided at all costs.

Graduated in Summer of 2009 with an AS in GD. I learned lots of different things from all my classes & instructors while I was here. All the teachers here are pretty cool. I do miss doing the different projects cause they were fun, different, & challenging. Lots of criticism from certain instructors that can make you cry. Just sayin. But I don't let the criticism bring me down. ;D Lots of homeless people around the school. Bart is sooo nearby. Convenient. in the heart of downtown. Pricey.

Location: Civic Center, a very convenient school that is near BART. The buildings are not too far from each other as well (there are two, 10UN and Main). Education: I really like this school, I'm going to have my BA in graphic design by the end of this year. The teachers are generally nice and take interest in your work, training you to improve for the real world. Of course, school and education is what you make of it. The harder you work, using the skills you learn in school, the better the outcome.

If I could give this school negative stars, I would. It is a BUSINESS, not an educational institution. The admissions department is good at their job, getting people in by telling you what you want to hear. However, they facts may not be there. I completed a total of 3 weeks of class before I found out that my program, Culinary Management, was NOT what they made it seem. I withdrew, and now I am getting calls from a Collections company telling me I owe them $2,000 for the remainder of the quarter I did not complete. There is NO communication between departments, no one knows what is going on, and I don't think they care about their students besides that they are funding their paychecks. DO NOT support this corporation! HUGE WASTE OF MY TIME. AVOID BEFORE YOU ARE TRAPPED WITH DEBT.

Had I the ability to tell myself all that would happen, I'd do everything in my power to stop it. The education was great for the most part, the financial aid system, school principals, and career services not so great. To state it best "There is often a question of competency when it comes to any institution, in this case there is no question of competency for there is none." Student Loans Let's be honest here there is almost no school that students can attend without taking loans. When I started I signed a tuition lock stating that my tuition per quarter would be locked totaling to 75,000. They explained to me there system of multiple dispersion this way no one takes out a whole chunk to complete school. By the end of my schooling I was told my loans exceed 122,000. My tuition lock was dissolved without notice. I called the dean who said she would look into this, to this day I have not heard back. I also contacted the dean in regards to a notice from the state informing me that I will be not given a certificate to be a substitute teacher because my degree is not accredited. She only replied "well you signed a waiver that any failure of accreditation is not our fault, sorry." Career Services Lowering the benchmarks of the definition industry position does not qualify as a success. To illustrate my point I was told once "It's a telemarketing job, it has marketing in it." Further illustration of career services falls under the category of "lack of ability to see a craigslist job scam", hot leads are craigslist ads, and etc. In lou of helping me find a better position than one I found myself, I was forwarded a motivational email instead. You will forgive me if this did not lift my spirits, but instead only cemented my belief that perhaps of advising students on careers they should probably find new ones than lead others. In short I WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS INSTITUTE, I have bore my tears and I have done my best to work with this administration. I have given the benefit of the doubt, and was a great advocate of this school. Today the only thing I would even do to deal with this school is court.

SFAI is the nation’s only art school dedicated to contemporary art. What sets SFAI apart?

It is like no other art school; it offers a refuge for both the radical and orthodox.

It understands that changes occur first as an idea, and then manifests through action.

It recognizes that art is integral to problem solving and questioning the status quo.

It positions itself dynamically between what was, what is, and what will be.

It is a place for alternative views where the new is born of necessity, not market forces.

Its faculty provoke and stimulate thought.

It is a creative laboratory and a place of aesthetic inquiry.

It gives valency to both the seen and the otherwise invisible within a culture of thoughtful anarchy.

It is a place of thought, elation, frustration, compunction, wisdom, and growth.

It recognizes that tradition is not historic, but a continuum.

Jeremy Morgan
Associate Professor

Jeremy Morgan is Associate Professor, Painting at SFAI. Born in Cambridge, England, he was educated at the Ruskin School of Drawing and of Fine Art, Oxford University, and at the Royal Academy Schools, Royal Academy, London. As a painter, he explores the meeting points of consciousness, the relationship between nature and human nature, and the processes of abstraction with emphasis on contemplating painting as a fusion of chemistry and psyche.

SFAI’s notable past faculty and alumni include Ansel Adams, Kathryn Bigelow, Angela Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Paul Kos, Annie Leibovitz, Barry McGee, and Kehinde Wiley.

For more information and application details, please visit

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