How to Choose an Animation College

    This page has some suggestions on how to go about choosing the right college to help you get into and learn animation. One fact that most students aren’t aware of is that not all colleges that say they offer animation as a major can really prepare you to enter the work force. Stuff you should know:

#1. If you are planning to enter a specialized field like animation, you should go to a specialized school. By this I mean, you probably shouldn’t go to a liberal arts school if you know for sure that you want to be an animator. Liberal arts colleges will give you a smattering of everything, which can be good, but if you know what you want to do already, you’re probably going to want a more focused approach. If you’re not totally sure you want to be an animator, then perhaps a liberal arts college really is the best place for you.  Think about this seriously.

Please note, that SOME liberal arts colleges have excellent animation programs, so this can be an unfair generalization. Just do the research on the colleges you are interested in and see if THAT college offers an INTENSIVE program. (whether its liberal arts or not.)

#2. A lot of “art” colleges try to cash in on ignorant students by saying they offer animation as a major. Be very wary of this. Unfortunately, I can’t review colleges any more due to lack of time, and as there are just too many springing up, and it’s impossible for me to know what they are all like!

YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO RESEARCH THE COLLEGES YOURSELF. You’re about to make a big choice, so you should put some work into it to make sure you make the right choice for you! What I suggest is that you think of the top 3 or 4 companies you might want to work for eventually. Call them up and ask them if they have a college list. (ie a list of colleges that they prefer.)

Also, I suggest that once you eliminate a few, that you visit the colleges. Take a look at their student artwork. Is it good? If it is something you could do now, you shouldn’t go there. You want to see a college that has work that astounds you. Look at the student films if they have any. Take a look at the kind of artwork coming out of the college, find out how many graduates get jobs.  Take a look at their alumni.  TALK to alumni and current students! See how intensive the work load is. Do they teach live drawing? Do they have storyboarding courses?

Take a look at the teachers’ credentials. Are they CURRENTLY working in the industry? This is not always a factor, as a great teacher could be retired or currently unemployed, however, a currently working teacher can get you better recommendations and better “ins” to the industry. Often it is a sign of the quality of the teachers, how many are currently working.

I also personally recommend colleges that actually require you to make your own films, as this is a wonderful and invaluable experience. Calarts and Sheridan are two main colleges that focus around this idea and are otherwise excellent as well. There are others though.

#3. Depending on the college, computer animation may not even cover “traditional animation techniques”. If you know good traditional animation techniques you can animate in any medium, be it on paper, with clay or with the computer. This is becuase animation techniques are not specific to any medium, they are rules of motion, made by studying life. The rules don’t change just becuase you change mediums. Unless you know for sure that you never want to do 3d, it’s in your best interest to learn both 2d and 3d. Or learn 3d, but make sure that you are learning GOOD animation techniques and GOOD acting skills. This is so important!

NOTE: Below are older lists from the 1990’s and are probably out of date! You can always call or write Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, etc, and ask them what they think. They often will already have a form letter ready with what colleges they currently prefer.

Disney Feature Animation Preffered College List
Pixar Preffered College List
PDI’s Preffered List

How To Draw and Animate Book List