So, The past few months have been really rough for me, I have lost a bunch of family, a long-term relationship, my place of living, my place of employment, and have really been in relatively rough shape. Anyway I'm trying to pick myself back up and do what is right for my next steps in life, I've been up applying to certain places and unfortunately many of the places insist on a minimum of an Associates Degree. They don't even seem to care what kind, as long as I have the paper. So naturally I'm looking at going to school for photography. I found a local school of art that has a photography AFA degree that focuses on both the digital workflow and believe it or not mostly traditional photography techniques! However I'd like to get a good idea of what others whom actually possibly might have gone to these schools, and or other schools, as well as just general information, I would for to hear from people whom actually either work in the education system, went to the actual schools, or hire people who go to various schools etc. Please don't flame me, this is a big step for me. I called around to the various state colleges and community colleges in my area and none of them have any serious photography focuses. -Southern CT State University in New Haven, CT is one that offers an art degree with a focus on photography, but even that only has five maybe six courses that are photo related and the rest are all normal academia and non-photo related art. And only offers a 4 year degree when I'm only looking at a 2 year degree at this point. TOTAL 2 year COST $25,000+materials cost and no degree or 4 year total of $50,000. -Paier College of Art, in Hamden, CT is a TINY little art school, but they seen to offer an associates with all the really important photo classes and my friend already goes there and she said it's a wonderful school, all the professors are working professionals who own their own photo studios etc, none are JUST teachers. And they offer a 4 year Bachelors if I want to continue after my 2 year. TOTAL 2 year COST $25,000+course materials cost I also spoke to one photographer that owns a random photo studio in my area who went to ... Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, it's farther from me and I would have to get housing, and they don't really offer and actual associates degree they only offer a certificate after two years of schooling, the guy I spoke to sounded like a real salesman, and he kept repeating that they were one of the top three photography schools in the world, something that I just had a hard time believing when there's places like RISD (which I couldn't afford) but he also mentioned that they did have a lot of job placement programs, and that 90% of their students get placed directly out of that program right out of school which on the surface sounded nice. TOTAL 2 year COST $50,000+housing+course materials costs. What I am weighing is the idea of going to school for photography and learning photography as a trade which would allow me to find and understand the working world of photography so that I can work in that field after I learn at the school, but also I'm weighing the option that Photography might not be the only thing that I should look at in terms of actually supporting myself after school is over, so the idea of getting an actual associates degree that is accredited is a little more appealing then if I go to school that just focuses on photography but only gives you a certificate and not an actual degree. In the art world your skills and your portfolio really are the main focus in terms of getting a job, but it doesn't hurt to have a backup plan and actual degree at the end. Price is also obviously a factor for me, and I would rather not have to have a tremendous scholastic debt while trying to start working in a field that already isn't exactly the best for many people in terms of financial stability, I am certainly open to other schools, but then the housing expense comes into play a lot and being away from the area in which I am used to living, I am certainly not academically skilled enough (my grades weren't great in school) and my portfolio probably isn't good enough to apply to a place like RISD or anything, but I'm open to considering a "reach" if it would make the difference somehow. The Paier place sounds like the best bet for both, and I would learn a lot and a much higher focus on traditional techniques... But I would like YOUR feedback please. Thanks everyone! ~Stone (PS mods I wasn't sure where to put this, feel free to move it to the right place).