The US government is suing the art institute for 11 billion dollars over fraud. While that seems like a sensationalist headline I think it shows the general state of art education in the US today. For profit schools getting kids into debt while giving them no additional opportunities for success in the real world.

Here’s my personal experience with education:

I went to college for 1 semester, after which I dropped out, worked on my portfolio and got my first game industry job just a few months later. I was 19. No one has ever asked me for a diploma, and no one has ever made me feel like I would have gotten the job if only I had completed college. It was always about the work, that and culture fit is all companies out there care about. Most people I worked with did not have degrees. Those that did spoke of it with regret, most said they wished they had gotten into the industry sooner, saved the money, didn’t carry crippling debt into their 30s, the list goes on.

We live in an age now where anyone can learn anything practically for free, or at least very cheaply, over the internet. John Carmack learned how to be a rocket scientist online. If he can do that, anyone can learn to be a game artist.

Education to me is not so much about what you learn, but how you learn. I remember when I was trying to break into the game industry I sent an email to one of the few people I knew that was working in the industry and was good at what he did at the time, Paul Steed. I asked him “How do you do this? How do you learn this? Should I go to school?” And his response was straight forward and rather harsh, but it got to the point. He told me “If you need someone to teach you this stuff you won’t make it in the game industry.”

That goes back to how you learn, it’s not about getting x knowledge and going out there and doing x job for the rest of your life, you constantly learn, always improve, and at some point when you are out in the world you have to learn new things on your own. No homework, no tests, no dissertations, just you and the rest of the world out there, you do what needs done. You put in the time, practice, research, try, get good at something, and once you do no one will care how you got there.