More on Film Schools and Music Education

Next, you’ll want to find out about the student-teacher ratio in both lectures AND labs. It’s important to note that if you have a question, will the
instructor be available to answer you?

In labs, check to see if you are just one of many, vying to grab hold of the equipment. Although, they may offer incredible gear for you to touch, the important point is that everyone has access to their own piece of equipment. You’ve heard of quality time. Well, here is where you need it. If there is only 1 piece of equipment and you have 10 students all trying to do the same thing in a very limited time frame, your opportunity to absorb key information declines.

Since many of these schools are private institutions that write their own curriculum, they often take an aggressive approach trying to introduce you to as many topics as possible and allow the student to take that info where it leads. Others, however, take a slower, less volume based approach to subject matter, focusing on the student leaving with a solid foundation of the basics. The intimate atmosphere of Barton College, in Wilson, North Carolina allows students greater time to learn their craft. “We offer our students four years to truly develop skills in the studio performing real world projects,” says Phil Valera, Associate Professor of Audio Recording Technology at Barton. “We also have very small classes and our students have less competition for studio and computer time so that they are able to develop their skills.” Either way, before you pick a school, make sure you inquire about their philosophy of teaching.

Ask yourself, “Are you a leader or a follower?” You need to know the answer to this question when making your choice for an institution. Certain schools lead you step-by-step, holding your hand each step of the way. Others actually have a very hands-off approach. The philosophy is, if the student is not motivated to learn and study by themselves, then they probably will never make it in the industry either. As Jay Noble mentions, “Drive is one of the most sought out characteristics, truly internal and instinctive; usually a key to standing out during your career.”

In the long run, it is best to set individuals up for success by giving them starting points and then access to the equipment, allowing them to fight through the learning process for the betterment of the student as a whole.

Finally, find out what the school costs? As mentioned earlier, many of these schools operate 24/7 and offer accelerated film or music degree programs. While this is fantastic in one sense, it also can put high financial strain on you. Many times it is simply impossible to work even a part-time job to help offset living costs. Can you afford not working during this time? Because the academic schedule fluctuates constantly, most employers simply cannot hire you because they never know when you may be available. And frankly, neither will you.

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