Carrianne Howard studied game design. As Bloomberg previously reported, she ponied up US$70,000 for a "worthless" degree from a for-profit college. But Howard not only lost $70,000 on that degree, she also lost her love of video games.
Her degree was financed by her parents' credit card, something that ultimately became a burden for her parents. After not being able to get a gig making games, Howard worked as a recruiter in the game industry until that dried up.
"I was on unemployment for a year, and continued to search for a job in the gaming field as well as the art field," Howard tells Kotaku. "No one would hire me because I didn't have the skill and knowledge in video game design." She had a degree, but the degree didn't prepare her to work in the game industry. According to Howard, "My portfolio looks like a student that graduated from high school crafts class that likes to work on graphic design and illustration." And because she had a degree, she claims she couldn't get minimum wage job in the gaming industry.
"I was either under qualified to work in the gaming industry or over qualified to work regular jobs," says Howard. "I was in a Catch-22."
From the age of three, Howard was an avid gamer, counting Super Mario 3, Final Fantasy 7 and 9, and Kings Quest 6 among her favorite games. She wasn't just a gamer, but a game collector. That is, until she sold them off to pay her rent.
She attended game conventions and events. She networked. She was an IGDA member. This is what she wanted to do, this was her dream. She wanted to make video games. And her dream had turned into a nightmare. "I was sold a false bill of goods, and did not receive a legitimate education that I paid $70,000.00 for," she says. "At the time I attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale the teachers did not have at least a certification or master's degree, they were not certified in 3D studio Max, they was also using out of date software and using unethical teaching methods."
To make ends meet, Howard began working as a webcam model and an exotic dancer. "I had no-where else to go to find employment so I worked my job as a web cam model at imlive.com," she says, "and then went to become a dancer after the web cam modeling business became saturated from so many girls seeking alternatives to find employment."
Howard says if she had known at the time about schools like San Francisco Art Center or the Pasadena College of Art and Design. If she had known, she might have gotten a different degree. And with that degree, who knows, she might have ended up in the industry.
The entire experience has left Howard with no desire to work in the gaming industry. She doesn't know how long she'll keep stripping, but she is interested in saving and going back to school. However, it's not 3D modeling that she wants to study. It's business.
For more information on how for-profit universities work, see Frontline's documentary College, Inc.
Kotaku is following up with the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.