Thursday, August 28, 2008

Flashpoint Academy Featured in UR Chicago Magazine Article on Career Education

No More Books
Non-traditional education programs focus on real-world training and job placement

In today’s uncertain economic climate, non-traditional schools that zero in on post-graduate job placement and networking contacts are gaining in popularity. “All our programs are geared toward helping students get their first jobs and start careers,” says Nivine Megahed, president of Kendall College, which offers degrees in the culinary arts, business and early education. And Kendall’s not the only one.

Schools like the Harrington College of Design and Flashpoint Academy of Media Arts and Sciences are taking a competitive edge over traditional schools by training and preparing students for the “real world.”Kendall College currently has a 92 percent job placement rate within six months of graduation. Not too shabby for a downturn economy. And aside from the positive figures, there’s an emphasis on personal fulfillment. “I call our programs passionate and sexy—the students are so excited about what they do,” notes Megahed. And nowhere is that more evident than the School of Culinary Arts, which has graduated hotshot chefs Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate and Terry Crandall of the Peninsula Hotel, among other notables.“It’s a hands-on education, where students work for eight hours a day on campus,” says Christopher Koetke, dean of the School of the Culinary Arts. Students learn their craft in state-of-the-art facilities with instructors who have worked in restaurants, hotels and country clubs. Another perk at the Culinary School is the student-run Dining Room. Reasonably priced gourmet dinners are served six nights a week, including a five-course menu that is offered on Mondays, and à la carte lunches are served Monday through Friday. The idea behind the Dining Room is to teach students strategies in serving large crowds. “Customers are treated to a fantastic deal and high quality, and they get to take part in the education process,” says Koetke.

Overall, these “alternative” institutions are gaining ground on traditional schools. In the field of interior design, for example, it’s now required to have a license to practice, hence the need to attend a school such as the Harrington College of Design. Fifty percent of the student body at Harrington already possess degrees and are returning for further schooling. For Erin Boone, a recent graduate in interior design, the school has provided excellent preparation and career placement. Since graduating, Boone receives at least two e-mails a week with five to six job leads. which she says are indispensable for helping navigate through Chicago’s design community. Harrington has an impressive 95 percent job placement rate. And technically speaking, it’s ahead of its competitors. “I have heard that other design schools are not as technically oriented,” Boone says. “No one can teach you how to be creative or understand color, but I needed help with the technical side, and the school is really good that way.”

Industries like film and the recording arts are increasingly being taught at specialty schools rather than traditional colleges. At the year-old Flashpoint Academy—which offers programs in game design and development, recording arts, visual effects and animation, film and, beginning this fall, broadcast media—students can get jobs faster through its two-year program than at four-year colleges. Founded in 2007 by Ric Landry and Howard Tullman, shortly after Tullman retired as the President of Kendall College, Flashpoint hasn’t existed long enough to have graduates. Yet current students are already actively working in the field on projects at Lollapalooza, in the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and other venues. And some students have already won awards for developing the game Edgar and Ellen for Nickelodeon. “Our students get exposed to opportunities a year or two earlier than anyone else,” says Tullman. And all you need to get in is a high school diploma. “Some students have four-year degrees; some have gone to another school or been in the work force. They come to Flashpoint to get trained,” Tullman observes. Clearly, the traditional four-year degree has serious competitors on the block.

Marla Seidell
UR Magazine

Wednesday, August 27, 2008



Flashpoint Academy Welcomes Noted Filmmakers DA PENNEBAKER and CHRIS HEGEDUS for Special Event and Screenings

Flashpoint Academy is pleased and excited to welcome noted filmmakers DA PENNEBAKER and CHRIS HEGEDUS for a series of exciting events at the Academy. Students will be treated to a special screen of their classic political documentary The War Room covering the first Clinton election.

And then they will screen a short portion from their newest film The Collar about France’s oldest and most prestigious pastry competition, the legendary Meilleurs Ouvriers de France.

The drama follows the quest of a Chicago-based Frenchman who strives to earn the coveted title “One of the Best Pastry Chefs in France” awarded by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.The evening's guests will also be treated to samples of the exquisite pastries he and his colleagues from The French Pastry School of Chicago prepare.

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