Cogswell Polytechnical College is the kind of school you have to make your own. There are opportunities at every single doorstep. Internship offers are regularly sent out via school email system and professionals from game, film, and animation industries are invited to give lectures and workshops practically every semester. Be warned - if you choose to just sit around and only complete the minimum, it's your loss. No one will hand-hold you through the process, you have to want to make connections yourself. Though the acceptance rate is high, the courses DO become rigorous later. In a school of only 1,000 students tops, people WILL know you. Establish yourself in the school community. Join clubs. Make lots of hardworking friends. You WILL need them. Because of the lenient course-picking and degree-plans, it's very easy to accidentally take classes you don't need later on, or plan to graduate one concentration within a degree field (like animation) but end up changing your mind midway through (to technical art and effects, for example). As such, it becomes a bit of a challenge to graduate in exactly four years -- its not unheard of that students may have to stay an extra semester to finish off just two classes, or for alumni to come back for additional qualifications. Conversely, it's also just as common for students to drop classes because they got hired for an internship or a job in their profession. All in all, it's a good school. Classes slowly but surely become increasingly challenging the further you progress and the opportunities to network and get into the animation industry are solid, so long as you go get them.
Cogswell College is a great idea. Ideally, it is a place where students can learn about the animation industry, whether in movies, tv, audio, or gaming. However, like all forms of art, the execution is more important that just the idea itself. The school seems to have improved overtime, but it's difficult to feel that the school supports its students when most of the students' tuition goes into the advertising budget of the school. With a 30% graduation rate, it doesn't feel like the school cares about the success of its students. They seem to care more for appearances than results. When new policies are added to the school and its degree plans, the advisors fail to inform their students. Graduates have been denied the right to walk on stage with their classmates because of unheard of policy changes. Teachers and faculty do not have clear office hours, despite there office hours being displayed outside their office doors. The student housing is over priced and unjust. In order to succeed in this school, the students must have steel-will and focus. They must be able to have the discipline to face their own challenges and fix problems themselves, without trusting in their faculty and instructors. This is a school that adults 30 and over will be able to succeed in. I would not recommend this school to high school students, unless they are already prepared with organization and self-discipline.
Scam School. I was constantly on Dean's list, so I'm not just some kid who sucked at college and can't find work. The entire school is a scam. I can't find work, my friends can't find work, and our credits don't transfer to other schools. Oh, and it's owned by Heald, a hotel company.
So. I got to Cogswell around Fall of 2013 and I graduated around Spring of 2017. I got to say it started out kind of good, but as the time went on, I noticed a few things. For one, teachers have an interesting turnover rate. They come and go and most the leave are good teachers. I did a little investigating and I found out that the teachers aren't really appreciated and the school is not as pleasant to these teachers as I once thought. Don't get me wrong, there are a handful of good teachers in there. However, there are also great teachers that left due to what the school has been doing to them. Some, already on the verge of leaving. They also replace some teachers with teachers that aren't so qualified and their work ends up crashing on them because the teacher told them to do risky and not so safe methods in maya. I got to say I'm also not quite the happy camper when I found out the school is run by a hotel company and one who used to run Heald some time back. Look it up it's called Palm Ventures. Another con is the whole esports thing. Don't get me wrong, I think it is wonderful for our kids to finally indulge in something other than school, however, I would vastly prefer better equipment first. Our computers can't handle Maya at full capacity sometimes and we have to playblast every single time we want to see the animation run smoothly. Some of the stylus pens they give us also have a messed up pen pressure and the nib would go inside the pen if you give it a little pressure. The only time we got to see an Intuos Cintiq was when you made it into our school's animated film production. Don't get me wrong, I love that we have two. However, I feel we should have some more for the underclassmen too for them to experiment digital art with a tablet with a screen. So those are the cons. The pros? Well, you'll meet cool people and we have a barbecue (or event) every once in a while provided by our wonderful ASB staff! They try to make student life a little more fun and provide a different experience to just academics! They're friendly and have an open door to those who need a place to work, find friends, and sometimes even get away from the noise. Another pro is that the teachers that do stay will try their best to inspire you and PUSH you to the best of their ability. Reid Winfrey, Dustin Aber, Genevieve Freckleton, and Dave Perry especially are very go-getting yet instruction heavy people that will tell you all the technical aspects you need to do to get better. I would include Jeff Jackson in here, however, he no longer works with Cogswell. But fear not! If you want Jeff Jackson's class, go to SJSU, he'll be there. He will help you with your craft. Leann Hill is also an SJSU professor and a Cogswell one, and she's really instruction heavy too. I never had a class with her but I sat in sometimes because I had to use a computer with a tablet to do work with. Oh yeah. That's another thing. Tablets aren't there in our homework lab, only in classrooms. But yeah, Leann is a pretty amazing teacher from what I've observed too. The director of animation also is encouraging people to go to contests and she also encourages people to have their demo reels reviewed by her so that's a really nice feature of Cogswell as well. Okay back to the cons. There are also some professors that are pretty belligerent and isn't instruction heavy at all. They will use class time to have students work on their animation rather than give lectures to tell us what to look out for. And as a new artist and animator using an unfamiliar program, I think it's essential to give us as much information as possible while also expecting us to have a kinda shaky start for our first years. After all, this is coming from a person who couldn't draw from imagination or animate in 2D AT ALL before coming here, and now knowing how to BECAUSE Dave Perry and Jeff Jackson taught me everything I know now because they're very instruction based. They also were strict but didn't tell students that they should probably find another career path if they didn't do it right the first time. For my 3D animation class, I can't say the same unfortunately. Don't get me wrong, other students might have a better time than I did, that's just my personal experience, take it with a grain of salt. Mix of Pro and Con, there's no actual cafeteria, BUT the food truck that comes over tastes AMAZING. And I think that's about it. It's also pretty expensive and the financial aid makes mistakes by taking too much loans and grants sometimes. But they're doing the best they can, so I can't be mad.
Cogswell has paled in comparison to what it used to be. We now have teachers covering for other teacher who leave for better job opportunities. Most teachers only work at Cogswell part time which limits availability outside of class and heavily rely on email for followups. The software needed for homework and projects are scarce, forcing students to sit in random classes to use "vacant" chairs pending on the teachers approval. Rates for credits and student housing has only increased in price while rates for scholarships provided from the school have decreased by 50%. There are more staff members than teachers in the school and students have no idea what do they do. Staff running student services such as financial aid are incompetent and do not care about poor families. They essentially scam families from open house into signing loans and debt. Students are refrained from sharing their honest opinions during open house to new comers and graduates are not assisted with jobs.
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