My take on Full Sail University

Well, it’s been a little over a year since I grad­u­ated from Full Sail Uni­ver­sity now, which is absolutely crazy really. I’ve always wanted to write some­thing about what I thought about the school, my expe­ri­ence, and if it’s ‘worth’ the cash you have to pay to attend. I guess after a year, I’ve had time to really think about it, and work a few jobs to see how the skills I learned have trans­lated to a career in the Design world.

First off, I’ve always been more of a ‘coder’ than a ‘designer’. I’d like to think I have a good eye for design, and I’ve cer­tainly learned over the years what works and what doesn’t. But I don’t think I’m the most cre­ative person out there, either. I know what prin­ci­ples work, which don’t, and typ­i­cally just make design choices based on that. When I enrolled in school in Orlando, I was hoping to get a better back­ground than another Atlanta area school sup­plied me in, design wise. With that said, I think I did expect Full Sail to supply more design theory versus a simple crash course in cer­tain applications.

Right out of the gate, I did feel like I was going to get a lot of that. Once our core classes were out of the way, some of the early classes I was in had names like Fun­de­men­tals of Design and Com­puter Grah­pics, real basic names that would lend them­selves to being classes that would stress the ins and outs of the won­der­ful world of design.

I’m not imply­ing we learned noth­ing about prac­ti­cal design con­cepts – we cer­tainly did. I am simply saying I wish we had spent more time on it. I felt we rushed through that part of the courses on the way to how to use whichever appli­ca­tion we were going to focus on that month. The prac­ti­cal knowl­edge we learned at school is second to none. When I left, I had inter­me­di­ate to advanced knowl­edge in the fol­low­ing soft­ware: Pho­to­shop, Illus­tra­tor, Inde­sign, GoLive, After Effects, Flash, Dreamweaver, Final Cut, 3D Studio Max, and a host of others. I learned, or honed my skills in, 5 dif­fer­ent pro­gram­ming lan­guages, and worked on tons of projects by myself and in groups. A lot of the things we churned out (in just one month!) rival any­thing I’ve seen from other design-​related schools. When I left, I really did feel like a well-​rounded designer, and felt I had a huge leg up over many other entry-​level stu­dents due to the amaz­ing number of pro­grams I had learned.

How­ever, this also makes a lot of the stu­dents who grad­u­ate from Full Sail Jacks of all trades; master of none as the saying goes. A lot of stu­dents come out of school and are kick-​ass web design­ers, or they go to school for some other field we dab­bled in but are mas­ters in it. Full Sail stu­dents can speak the lingo, but can’t always deliver the goods as well as some­one who has been doing it for years can.

Bottom line: is Full Sail Uni­ver­sity worth the price tag($40k or more, depend­ing on living expenses & your spe­cific major)? I hon­estly think it depends on so many fac­tors that it’s impos­si­ble to say yes or no def­i­nitevely. I’ll be paying off stu­dent loans for the next 10 or so years, and while my earn­ing poten­tial has cer­tainly sky­rock­eted due to the knowl­edge I acquired while at Full Sail, I’ve also been hand­cuffed by the loans to gain that very knowl­edge & skill. I pay approx­i­mately $6,000 a year right now to Sallie Mae to cover my loans from school. If you factor in how much I have to make hourly to pay that off, that’s almost $8,000 a year (before taxes) in income to pay off my debt. Did Full Sail enable me to make $8,000 a year more than I would have if I didn’t go there? Per­haps. The only skill that I use at my cur­rent job that I did not have before going to Full Sail was my back­ground in Flash. I’d say I spend about 5 hours a week in Flash right now, so it’s hard for me to say whether or not it was ‘worth’ it or not.

I just think that it’s some­thing for anyone con­sid­er­ing enter­ing a school like Full Sail. Really think about what you want to be doing with your life when you get out of school, because this isn’t some broad degree like, say, some sort of Busi­ness degree that will allow you to enter a huge amount of fields when you grad­u­ate. If you attend Full Sail and get out, odds are you’re going to get a job in your spe­cific degree-​related field, or you’re going back to col­lege some­where else after­words. Of the 30 or so kids that grad­u­ated with me, roughly 10 of them are in Dig­i­tal Media/Graphic Design related fields. The rest of them either moved back home with their par­ents and are doing noth­ing, or they’re back in school some­hwere else.

Ok, now what?

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