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What steps should I take for choosing the best college for the career I want to go into?

I'm a junior, and I want to get a job in the animation industry. I recently moved from San Francisco to the Mississippi, and I'm struggling to find a school that would have a major that lines up with my career paths.

#career-paths #college #careers

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Thomas’s Answer

I would also think about where you want to live after college. It can be beneficial to go to a college close to where you want to live, so you can start building connections in the community. This will also help you in getting a job after college.
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Sejal’s Answer

Hi Jada! This is a really great question, and I also found myself in the same spot when I started my college search process!

I think the first step would be to develop a short list of colleges you would be interested in applying to. Since you're aiming for the animation industry, I'd suggest looking for colleges which offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis on Graphic Design, or even something like Digital and Print Media - there's really a lot of possibilities! Here's a list of Animation Schools specifically in Mississippi: https://www.animationcareerreview.com/articles/mississippi-animation-schools
but if you're open to attending a college outside of your state, there's a lot more options!

Next, I think it'd be really helpful to rank your priorities in terms of wants and needs. In addition to the college offering your desired major, also consider what services the college offers in order to further your experience. This could be something like a Student Success or Career Center, which could help you in finding animation internships, or even narrowing down your career path and answering any questions you have. This is also where you would think about the kind of class format you want (big or small), private or public university, campus life, etc. I would also take the time to look into different organizations on these campuses. There may be some art or visual/graphic design organizations that you could join which would be of interest to you!

Lastly, I'd engage in some alumni groups to ask current or past students how their experiences were at the college, and what advice they have. If tours are offered, it'd be really great to see the campus in person to get the feel of it as well!

I hope that this helped, and all the best for your college search journey!
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David’s Answer

Hi Jada, there has been a lot of great advice given. I would add, to keep in mind, to chase your PASSION, not just your PENSION. What I mean is, if Animation is your career choice, what coincides with that, that may be less specific to Animation? Take what you find interesting, and also consider what can be applicable across multiple careers. For example, if you find people interesting, take Psychology courses. Learning about human traits and conditions is also applicable across virtually all careers. Even in Animation, you will have to work with people! Good luck!
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Karen’s Answer

Hi Jada,
I teach 3D Animation and Digital art at an undergraduate institution. I would suggest speaking with someone in the industry or in education to get a better feel for your end goal. Perhaps you have watched some behind the scenes and have a better idea for the realm of animation you want to pursue. It is ok to use your college years to get more refined, but it's just as important to decide what you don't like as it is to define what you do like.
For example:
2D Animation vs 3D Animation
Industry (Animated Films, Television/Advertising, Games, or Visual Effects are the big ones)
Location/Company -- look into the visuals that are most inspirational to you and find out who made them. Notice any trends--are they all made by one company? Is that company in Vancouver or LA or Chicago? This can be a good way to lay the groundwork for your approximate destination.
Essentially... reverse engineer your goals to give yourself practical steps toward where you want to go.
Undergraduate education is all about seizing opportunities and learning as much about yourself as you do about the industry/world. Find a place where you can grow, learn, fail, and succeed--everything else will fall into place. You can do it!! There isn't a right answer, you just need to keep being you and keep moving forward.
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Keith’s Answer

The best way to know where to go for your given career path is to research it. Between Google and US News and World Reports, you should get an overall feel for where are institutions that have a program that fits your needs. Many students stop there and then blindly "guess" which one to attend or select the school with the best overall reputation. In addition to finding the schools, you should interview a few people. First, most schools have a school directory of the professors. Find a professor in your field, at the school you are interested in, and email him or her. Tell them you're looking to get a better understanding of the focus and quality of their program. Then, repeat that for every school on your initial list. While doing this, you should contact companies that do the work you are interested in doing. Try to interview a working professional and see if they have any strong opinions about each of the schools. Information is power; the more information you find, the better choices you can make.
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