AVANT Media Institute ("Avant") is a Houston-based educational institution specializing in career training for the digital and media technology industries. At the end of a 44-week curriculum, students graduate with a diploma in Audio Engineering and are ready to take on jobs and careers in recording, live production, TV and radio, movies and gaming. Already a state-licensed institution with a three-year track record, Avant is currently navigating the National Accreditation process and is raising funds.
Formed in 2014, Avant began with the mission to provide students with an immersive educational experience, applying hands-on training with industry standard hardware and software. Avant’s classrooms and facilities are equipped with top-of-the-line audio editing and recording equipment, an in-house recording studio and student work bays.
The Avant faculty has over 50 years of combined experience in the audio industry. In addition to their own Grammy-nominated projects, Avant instructors have collaborated with multiple Grammy-winning artists and are still active today in their fields. The interactive curriculum is crafted with the sole focus of advancing students toward mastery of skills and job placement.
In its first three years, Avant has crafted a specialized curriculum, applied for and established State Certification, and has graduated dozens of students through its Audio Engineering program.
In the next year, Avant will continue developing its student body and will be eligible for National Accreditation (normally a 4 to 5-year process from the time of launch). This accreditation status will provide the institute with national recognition and its students with the ability to qualify for federal student grants and loans when enrolled in the program. The specific standards and application that the institute is applying for will also allow Avant to offer its students an Associates Degree by 2019.
These milestones will be significant steps forward in achieving the institute’s long-term goals. The institute plans to add digital video production and video game design and programming to its curriculum. With these programs in place, Avant will become a full-suite for-profit technical college dedicated to advancing educational excellence in the media industry.
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Avant is targeting $50,000 to $55,000 with its NextSeed raise. The team plans to use the funds to fulfill requirements and costs incurred in the National Accreditation process.
Just over half of the proceeds ($30,000) will cover the application, government fees, as well as the additional applications and payments to the multiple workshops and necessary trainings required of the leadership team.
The additional funds will be put towards hiring staff to fill new roles required for accreditation. These will include full- and part-time positions, including a Career Services Representative, Student Services Representative, Financial Aid Advisor and Lab Technician.
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As a vocational institute, Avant is part of a billion-dollar industry bloated with a similar occurrence: curriculums that offer very little practical training and experience. Avant’s hands-on approach to learning media technologies sets it apart and readies its students for immediate placement in the industry. Employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014-2024, in-line with national averages.
Avant is built on three key pillars: 1) relevant and practical education, 2) low student to teacher ratios, and 3) affordable tuition.
Vocational schools are at the forefront of a growing trend. Students who have the ability to attend four-year colleges are now seeking out technical schools as an alternative. Vocational institutions are often more cost-affordable and more practical, teaching immediately applicable skills. Through its first few years, Avant students have achieved over 90% placement in industry jobs at or shortly after graduation.
With a focused curriculum and an up-to-date, hands-on learning experience, Avant students have the opportunity to exceed the learning curve compared to graduates from other institutions. Avant’s student to teacher ratios are pegged at 12:1 or lower.
The year-long program spans 4 separate 11-week quarters. Tuition is $20,000 annually, which is among the lowest in the country within the category.
However, even with the relatively lower cost of tuition, Avant is currently capturing only a fraction of its potential revenue. In the early stages of building its brand reputation, the team has focused on growing its community rather than maximizing cash flow. Without national accreditation, Avant students are unable to apply for federal aid and affordable student loans. In response, tuition for the program is subsidized heavily by Avant’s own scholarship and financing mechanisms. Collection of revenue is therefore both lower and delayed, averaging a third of the stated tuition.
By achieving national accredited status, revenue will be directly impacted. Federal lending pays the institution half of the borrowed amount up front and half upon the student’s completion of the degree.
With a focus on community building, Avant is invested in its marketing efforts to raise awareness of its programs. Avant’s leadership team and staff will continue to regularly visit schools and conventions to introduce the program to potential students. The team has also launched a strong digital marketing campaign to broaden its reach. This marketing push, in conjunction with its National Accreditation, will allow Avant to potentially double or triple the size of its student body within a short period.
Additionally, the institute has plans to increase its diploma programs to include digital video programs and video game design over the next few years.
Avant Media Institute is located on the Northside of Houston (256 North Sam Houston Pkwy E #130, Houston, TX 77060). The school is next door to Lone Star Community College’s Greenspoint campus, providing local students with a viable and practical education alternative.
According to the US Census, over 77% of Houston residents age 25+ hold a high school diploma or higher degree. Only 31%, however, opt to graduate with a four-year college degree or higher.
Vocational institutes are in high demand to fill the gap in higher education. By providing a physical campus with actual hands-on work space, Avant sets itself apart from the online-only curriculums that are the subject of much debate.
The faculty and staff have also established strategic relationships with various entertainment venues and industry professionals around the city. Through these relationships, Avant has set up exclusive introductions and internships with media tech leaders, providing students with insight into what their professional future might look like both practically and as a lifestyle.
As a major international city, Houston has this capacity and need for the skill sets trained at Avant. Growth is expected to stem from the many businesses, schools and radio and television stations in the city.
Education is a passion for Ryan. He’s worked with underprivileged and at-risk students in the Houston area since 2000, launching a tutoring and afterschool program focused on providing students with additional growth opportunities.
Ryan founded the AVANT Media Institute in 2014 with the core belief that the future of education lies beyond the 4-year college.
Crystal holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of Houston. She has also received her Licensed Professional Counselor Certification. In her decade-long career as a guidance counselor and institute director, Crystal has dedicated herself to the fusion of personal and academic needs. She strives to prepare students for real world achievement.
Armando has been recording, mixing and mastering records for over 12 years. After graduating from Full Sail Real World Education in 2002, he began to pursue freelance engineering and production endeavors. He has since worked with many established artists including Ludacris, George Clinton, Jadakiss and B.O.B among many others. In an effort to share his knowledge, Armando began to teach young engineers both privately and in Houston-area schools.
As Department Chair at AVANT Media Institute, Armando leverages his experience to writes and develop a practical and ambitious curriculum for the program.
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