Picking the right school for whatever it is you are looking to study is vitally important so that you can get the most out of your education. I am speaking from experience here as my eldest son went away to college last year, and picking the right sound engineer school for him was not easy. Thankfully, we had some great advice from a family friend of ours who himself is a sound engineer who had recently graduated from college.
I want to share with you the advice we got about how to pick the right college for any of you out there who are looking to embark on a career in sound engineering.
This field of study is far better learned using a hands-on approach rather than a theory based, textbook approach. Most things are best understood when you actually do them, instead of just hearing stories about what was, what is, or what will be. This field of study is one of those areas that you won’t get anywhere by just listening to stories and endless lectures. Many colleges don’t agree with this but from the sound engineers who we have spoken to, it is clear that this is the style of learning that works best within this industry. Make sure that you speak to the college about their teaching style and where they lay their focus; theory or practice.
When you have completed your college course and begin working in a studio, you will be working with state of the art equipment. With this in mind, you should also expect the same from the college you have chosen so that you can have experience in working with the best technology. It is said that a poor workman quarrels with his tools, but not even the best chef in the world can make a bad recipe produce a delicious meal. In other words, there is equipment that will make things easier for you and bring out the best side of you, and there is equipment that will make you doubt yourself and feel like you made the wrong choice in picking this field of study. Furthermore, there is nothing as frustrating like when you are told you should get a particular effect from an equipment, but the one you’re using is producing a completely different one. The equipment you use is vital, and should at least meet the industry standard. However, because of the limited funds that some colleges have, plus the fact that this kind of technology moves at a blistering pace, there are many colleges that still use outdated equipment. Make sure that the college you choose, has the best equipment available.
Many colleges throughout the country have strong connections with people inside the industry that have considerably helped many ex-students secure a job after their education. With this in mind, then it really makes sense for you to select a college just like this so that you can have the best possible chance of getting into the business once you have completed your education.
As part of your college course, you should look for colleges that offer a section of work experience into their syllabus; attachments, internships, or if possible, apprenticeships. Hands-on, work experience can give students the best experience of what it is like to work in a studio with professionals, and the knowledge and experience that can be gained from this is invaluable. Not all colleges offer work experience, so make sure that you look for a college that does.
And finally, you should think about the cost of the college you are looking for. It is not necessarily the cost of the course itself, but what you will actually get for the money. For example, if you find a college that ticks all the boxes we have listed in this post, then you should expect to pay a little extra; this will be money well spent. However, if the fee is expensive and you feel that the college doesn’t meet most of the criteria recommended here, then you should keep looking. And don’t complain that a school isn’t working for you if it’s cheap and not well recognized in the industry. You get what you pay for.