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Help with picking a college
Tommy Whitcomb, Photographer, Assistant
banks | or | | Posted: 1:21 PM on 09.06.07
->> I’m 22 years old been shooting for a few years now. All the photographers I talk to say that I need to go to college. So if you can you tell me some good colleges to look at that would be great. I want to go to college on the West coast, I prefer Southern California.

Thank You
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Eldon Lindsay, Student/Intern, Photographer
Des Moines | IA | USA | Posted: 1:27 PM on 09.06.07
->> If you're set on SoCal. Brooks Institute is your answer.
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Patrick Fallon, Student/Intern, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 1:32 PM on 09.06.07
->> Well, if you are limiting yourself to schools on the West Coast... [not a bad thing, per-say, but rules out Western Kentucky, Mizzou, and Ohio]

Brooks Institute of Photo, Santa Barbara, CA
San Jose State I believe has a PhotoJ program also.

For Community colleges,
Orange Coast Community College, Costa Mesa, CA is supposed to be pretty good also. Long Beach State I believe had a program, not sure if they still do.

Brooks is going to be the most expensive of the bunch[I believe], but its 3 years, some say its very good if you know what you want.. others say otherwise... I am not making a judgment there. What really matter's is your own skill and how much you want to succeed.. regardless of where you go to school... you determine your future... as does your portfolio.
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Andrew Villa, Student/Intern, Photographer
San Jose | CA | United States | Posted: 1:38 PM on 09.06.07
->> I'm a San Jose Student here, this is my first semester here and it's pretty fun so far. Our new professor is pretty cool and really wants to push you to be creative.

San Francisco State is also another great option for people majoring in PJ. Talk to Kristina Barker she's an SS member too.

After talking to people the other night, its more of what you make out of J-school than anything.

If you have any specific questions email me
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Matthew Cavanah, Student/Intern, Photographer
Columbia | MO | US | Posted: 2:00 PM on 09.06.07
->> Missouri really is an awesome journalism school. But the way it's set up, you have to go through two years of school before you really can get into photo classes. But there are tons of opportunities to shoot while you're dealing with the all the general education requirements.
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Mike Shepherd, Photographer
Wichita | KS | USA | Posted: 2:09 PM on 09.06.07
->> wherever you go, don't forget to take a business course or two ... or three.
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Juliann Tallino, Photographer, Photo Editor
Port Townsend/Seattle | WA | USA | Posted: 2:24 PM on 09.06.07
->> Tommy,
You didn't say what you want out of college. Are you going for a PJ degree, or are you looking to get more into commercial photography and want a photography degree? What's your ultimate goal?
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Allan Campbell, Photographer, Assistant
Salem | OR | USA | Posted: 6:43 PM on 09.06.07
->> If you are interested in commercial photo Art Center College of Design is in Pasadena. It is a great school for commercial work, team projects with designers, transportation majors, packaging people.... down side it is even more expensive than Brooks.
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Steve Boyle, Photographer
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 6:50 PM on 09.06.07
->> I'd take the cost of the education under consideration as well. The less debt the better. It became the deciding factor for me when choosing between Syracuse and Missouri.
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Jeffery Patch, Student/Intern, Photographer
Huntington Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 8:42 PM on 09.06.07
->> Cal State Long Beach student here. Just finished up the Journalism program w/ an emphasis in Photojournalism. You take a whopping 2 photo journalism classes (beginning & advanced). The photoJ classes are as good as you make them. They're a little basic if you are an experienced photographer, but that just challenges you to get out and do a good job on the assignments.

What stands out about CSULB is the program as a whole. They don't train you to be a photographer, they train you to be a journalist. You get plenty of choices when it comes to your classes but you will take a broad range of them. Media law, ethics, news writing, online publishing, print design, even tv/radio broadcast. And the campus paper is pretty good too (ok, I'm biased as I work for them - Oh, there is plenty of sports to shoot!

Obviously I'm partial to the program since I'm a product of it, but I truly feel that a good photographer doesn't need much hand holding. I've learned most of what I know either from trial & error or thanks to research I've done on the internet (SS is a great example). If you feel comfortable with photography than focus your education on journalism.
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 11:57 PM on 09.06.07
->> "I prefer Southern California"

Get out of town ya lazy bastard. Forget all that sun and sand and find somewhere different.

Britiain perhaps.
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Yamil Sued, Photographer, Photo Editor
Peoria | AZ | USA | Posted: 12:40 AM on 09.07.07
->> I went to Brooks.....Graduated 22 years ago. I got my Degree (Double Major) Illustration and Color Technology, I don't think they have those majors anymore, or maybe they call them something different.

I lived in Columbia, MO for 4-1/2 years, I must say that Mizzzou has a great PJ program. I don't really know about Brooks, they didn't have a PJ program when I graduated, there was only one PJ elective being taught there back in 1985.

Did you say that Art Center is more expensive than Brooks??? Jeez!!
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David Meyer, Photographer
Orlando | FL | USA | Posted: 1:16 AM on 09.07.07
->> Tommy,
Are you interested in a staff job or remaining freelance (I'm assuming that's your current status based on your web site)?
I ask because I'm not sure if you'll need a degree in the freelance world. Don't get me wrong, you can learn a lot of great things in college and that degree can open some doors for you. But I don't think the average freelance client cares about your educational background. I think it's probably more important to build a killer portfolio and reputation as a solid yet creative producer while slowly accumulating a quality client list.
College might help on the staffer side as you'll be "in the loop." You'll have the built-in advantages of networking, relationships and peer interaction that might not be available to you outside the system.
When it's all said and done, a college degree is what you make of it. It can be a non-descript piece of paper earned by jumping through the prescribed hoops or a symbol of enlightenment. The latter usually achieved only by self-starters who branch out beyond the path that is set forth in a curriculum or syllabus.
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Todd Spoth, Photographer, Student/Intern
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 1:58 AM on 09.07.07
->> I second Jim's post about being more open minded to other locales...namely Britiain.

But yeah, seriously. If I had to do it over again I would try for OU.

UT has a good journalism program I believe. University of Texas that is.
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Richard Orr, Photographer
Longmeadow | MA | USA | Posted: 10:13 AM on 09.07.07
->> I echo the advice of taking the cost into consideration. I sat down with my daughter, a high school senior, and ran the numbers on a $45,000 year school vs. 2 years in Community College, and transferring.

The accumulated debt at the end of the 4 years, paid back in 10 amounted to the equivilent of our mortgage. She would have to earn, on average, $23,000 a year more to break even. And that is before taxes.

As someone with 25 years of significant corporate management experience before leaving to shoot full time, I can assure you that she would never be able to overcome that debt right out of school; not from the schools she would be looking at.

Unless you know specifically what you want to do and can do the math to make it work, don't kill your financial future before it even starts.
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Adam Vogler, Photographer
Pittsburg | KS | USA | Posted: 11:48 AM on 09.08.07
->> I went into school with the attitude that my profession was going to be more along the lines of Journalist (photo) than Photojournlaist so I took as many reporting and writing classes as I could fit into my schedule. The job market is getting kinda scary out there so the more skills you bring to the table the more likely you are to get your foot in the door.

In fact after 7 months of looking for a staff job I got hired as, you guessed it, a reporter (not ideal but I still shoot and it beats the hell out of Wal Mart). If you want to work in photojournalism I would recommend learning as much about journalism as possible.

I went to a small school without the advantages of a big programs like Mizzou or UT.
The flip side of that is that I knew every member of the Comm Department on a first name basis. I also knew most of the key members of the university administration.
My advisor and my instructors were literally available 24/7 to help. I was easily able to get credentialed for all of the athletic events

One thing that I don't think anyone else has mentioned is to look at the schools newspaper. Will you be able to get on staff early in your college career?
Unlike larger schools my classmates and I were able to be paid staff at the schools paper as freshman. Several of us were also able to work as stringers for the two local dailies. I learned more doing that than I ever did in a class and I got paid to do it.

In this job learning is never going to stop. When looking at college you need to be thinking less about what you are going to learn there and more about the foundation you are going to build for the ongoing education that working in photography is.
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Chris Reichman, Student/Intern, Photographer
Round Rock | TX | | Posted: 3:48 AM on 03.28.08
->> I second that you should consider the University of Texas. I graduated last may from UT. Although it is not the most well known program, it is up and coming.
While there I met and heard lectures from 3 Pulitzer Winners, a couple AP photographer, a couple SI photographers including Bill Frakes, and took a class under Eli Reed a very well respected Magnum Photographer( who is still on staff).
My education at UT was top notch.
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Chase Smith, Student/Intern, Photographer
Costa Mesa | CA | United States | Posted: 4:11 AM on 03.28.08
->> Be careful about going to trades school, (namely Brooks in this case). Credits from Brooks do not transfer to other colleges and while this may no seem like a problem now, it is something to consider. Also you did not mention if tuition is an issue, federal loans are available but be prepared to be paying them off well into your middle forties ( assuming your paying the minimum).
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Alan Look, Photographer
Bloomington | IL | United States | Posted: 9:05 AM on 03.28.08
->> What Tommy doesn't say is what he wants to major in. Ifyou want PJ, the advice above is great. In my experience, if you want to major in photography the doors open up at other places. So, PJ or Photography?
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David Guralnick, Photographer
Detroit | MI | USA | Posted: 9:25 AM on 03.28.08
->> San Francisco State for sure. Besides having a fantastic PJ program, it's San Francisco for cryin' out loud. Ken Kobre runs the program (he wrote the book that many schools use) San Jose State also has a great program.
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Thread Title: Help with picking a college
Thread Started By: Tommy Whitcomb
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