I've been getting a lot of questions recently by students who are interested in getting into the game industry on what school to go to to become a 3d Environment Artist.
Before i dig into this i want to say that I, myself, went to the Art Institute where i studied Game Art and Design in 2005. Was it the right thing to do? For me at the time it was. Would I do it now? Probably not.
Here are the reasons why:
2- When you are trying to get a job in the industry, especially as an artist, companies really don't care what kind of school you went to. All they care about is the quality of your portfolio.
(This gets a bit tricky if you are coming from a different country to the US. For a company to sponsor you for a work VISA you'll need a degree in your field or a certain amount of years of experience in the industry)
3- Instead of going the traditional college way, there is a growing number of professional artists within the industry who teach either on their own or few of them who work together and provide quality up to date material about the industry. A good example is 3dmotive.com and digitaltutors.com, these services are not free, but are very cheap compared to the insanly high price tag that comes with "traditional schools" and the unforgiving loans you'd end up having to pay after you graduate.
4- There are a few schools that i think are worth going to, but again they are not your traditional type of school and it is more likely you won't be able to transfer any of yours credits if you decide you want to become a Wall Street Broker. An example would be Gnomon School
5- Lets say, you really want to go to a college, then you need to keep in mind that what you are being taught is probably already out of date mostly because of bureaucracy slowing down everything and most of the time your teachers don't even have any professional experience in the field and/or have been out of it for years. So, to solve this problem you will have to work long hours outside of school and also make sure you don't compare yourself to your classmate but to people who are already working within the industry. You need to know that each time there are layoffs, you are competing with people who have shipped games like BioShock, SWTOR and many more.
At the end of the day, these are strictly my own opinions and you should question everything and not be lured by fancy looking computer labs and other facilities. One last thing on my mind, be aware of "X% of Our graduates get a job in the industry, guarantee" that usually includes working at Best Buy and Fry's...
Wishing you the best success in your career.
If you have any comments or questions please don't hesitate to ask!