Disclaimer: I graduated from CATO in 2010. Structure of the programs and the school itself have surely changed in some way since then. This is simply myself looking back at my experience.
When people ask me if I regret going through 18 months of study at CATO, quite a few mixed and contradicting thoughts come to mind. First of all, I don’t regret the past, as it’s shaped who I am today, but in retrospect, I would’ve liked to approach my career in an entirely different way.
Coming from a small town, I was naive on the workings of large businesses and their dynamics. The Centre for Arts and Technology is a business and the school exists to make profit, fair enough. The tuition was an amount that I had to justify over and over, “This is my career and I’m passionate about it, don’t let the cost deter you.”, I kept telling myself.
It was near the end of high school and I signed up for the bootcamp program. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it, as it does give you a sense of the environment that you’ll be learning in. It wasn’t until a few years after in 2008 that I ultimately made the decision to commit to the course.
To generalize, the students, including myself, were so naive and focused on the title of the program, Graphic Digital Multimedia Design, and had this idea already made up in their minds that this was strictly a graphic design focused program.
I don’t blame them!
The marketing for the program was saturated with, design this, design that. Only scratching the surface and the students never got a chance to fully understand what they were getting themselves into. The two primary points of failure on the school’s part was both the financing and recruitment side. From the beginning of submitting my letter of interest to take the program, it was all about if I can finance a student loan, nothing about the details of what the individual courses will entail.
The lack of effort and process to properly screen and intake new potential students was very weak. It allowed students to keep this perfect image of what they are expecting this program to be and get them to quickly sign the papers.
The other students and I were definitely in for a surprise.