My Ai Story: The Art Institutes of NYC
This story was written by Amy Robin, who attended the Art Institutes of New York. If you are also an Ai of NYC student or alumni, please check out our discussion page. Also, be sure to join I am Ai on Facebook, and if you would like to also tell your student debt story, connect with us at AiJustice@AngryMillennials.com.
From 9th grade on, I dreamed of being a fashion designer. I had fashion classes in high school, which is where I first found out about the Art Institutes. At the end of my Junior year, The Art Institute of NYC had a presentation at my school persuading us to apply there. The presentation made Ai look like an amazing school to attend, especially for Fashion Design students. I applied to Ai, as well as Parsons School of Design, Pratt, and FIT. I only got accepted to Ai, and now that I look back on it, it should have triggered a red light for me. I really couldn’t draw well at all which is why the other fashion schools didn’t want me. I thought Ai believed in me and my talent, but as soon as I enrolled, my hopes and dreams slowly diminished as each semester/quarter went by.
The application process was quick and easy, they barely even asked for a portfolio until I attended my admissions interview. My parents and I met with my advisor in early May of 2010, right before I graduated from high school. She asked for 3 photos of garments I’ve made or some sketches. The advisor looked through them, and commented on how talented I am and how far I can get by attending this school to establish my fashion career. I specifically asked if my credits would transfer to CUNY (City University of New York) colleges if I wanted to transfer eventually and she assured me that they would. She also mentioned that this Art Institute is accredited, both of which are complete lies. She told me the job acceptance rate of the alumni, which was 86%. Afterwards, I signed the required documents and I got immediately approved for loans.
Fast forward to my first day of moving in to the dorms on August 15th. It was a smooth transition, and class started on the 20th of that week. My first day of class was pretty easy. I was encouraged to start in the summer semester so I could finish the college more quickly. I had an English/Writing 101 class that probably taught me middle school level grammar which is why it was so easy to pass. Once I started taking my fashion classes, I realized why this school was so easy to get into. Some of my fellow classmates didn’t even know what a “seam” was or how to sew a straight line. You can just imagine how slow class progessed because some of the students just didn’t have any prior knowledge of sewing before attending this college. My draping professor was the reason why I left the school. He was just a mean spirited teacher, that told me I’d never make anything of myself and that I was talentless. The next week after starting his class, I dropped out. I went to my academic advisor and I told her I was planning to drop out and attend a CUNY college. Fashion Design was no longer my dream major, and I wanted to pursue fashion merchandising. At that point, I had already accrued 80,000 in student loans. My advisor tried to persuade me to take Fashion Merchandising here and that it would cost less money. It would have cost me an additional 40 K to finish at Ai. At CUNY, it has cost me less
then $5,000 to get my Associate’s Degree in Fashion Merchandising. The best decision I made was to transfer to a real college.
When I spoke with an academic advisor from CUNY, I was informed that Ai is NOT accredited (1st lie) and that NONE of my 55 credits will transfer. (2nd lie). I had to completely start over with 0 credits. I’m happy to say I graduated in June 2015 with 2K in student debt for an Associate’s Degree. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in International Fashion Merchandising through their CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies Program. After taking countless Math and English courses within the CUNY system, I have come to the conclusion that the General Ed courses at Ai are not substantial for a college education.
Further more, each semester is only 11 weeks long, which is not enough time to adequately learn the techniques needed to be in the fashion industry in NYC. While attending Ai, I pursued various Fashion Design internships and jobs in the retail sector. Almost all of the employers that I interviewed with do not consider Ai to be a real school and will laugh at you out the door if you mention that you attend there. Within the fashion industry, they know that it’s a hoax and that the students that are graduating from this program are not educated enough to understand basic industry terms and processes.
This is the reason why I demand that my loans be cancelled. The education I received is not adequate for starting a career. The Art Institutes is a complete fraud and should be held accountable for the time and money that they have stolen from young students.