I have been in the veterinary world for as long as I can remember. I even sat under the desk as a baby in my mother's classes in vet school. I've worked in veterinary clinics since I was 13. Almost all of the clinics and hospitals have had technicians from Bel-Rea and it is a highly respectable school amongst veterinarians.
I am currently a student at Bel-Rea, just about to finish. I am enjoying my time there. I feel like I am getting a lot of information very quickly, but that is what I'm paying for. I want a lot of information and I want to get out into the field as quickly as possible. YES, you can go to a school like CCD or PIMA and pay less. That is up to you. They are very different programs.
Yes, parking sucks and yes, teachers have favorites. Your future bosses will have favorites, too. I assure you of that.
One thing that I wish Bel-Rea was better about is the lack of hands on experience. There are several labs where you get experience, but I feel they are few and far between. My greatest recommendation is to volunteer at clinics or shelters and learn confidence in your skills because you will want that for your internship.
When I was considering which school to go to, I was more concerned with the reputation of the school. I listened to veterinarians say that they preferred Bel-Rea grads and that they were more likely to hire Bel-Rea grads. I felt that gave me a better shot at finding a job after graduation.
I think a lot of the negative reviews are from bitter people. Perhaps the school was harder than they thought it would be. Which is why you should STUDY hard and daily. Perhaps they made the wrong choice when selecting schools to suit their needs. I don't have children or a family to support, so I am fine with working on weekends and after school on weekdays. I found a job that was flexible and used to having Bel-Rea students for employees. Perhaps they got on the wrong side of a teacher by acting out in class. Perhaps they didn't realize that in the field they would be required to go to work (just as we are required to go to class) and may be required to wear specific scrubs provided by the clinic (just as we are required to wear Bel-Rea scrubs).
Do yourself a favor - visit Bel-Rea, visit CCD, visit Pima, and visit Front Range. Compare the programs: how they are run, internship schedules, facilities, class schedules, teachers, etc. See which one fits you the best. I guarantee you that you'll find fault with any school (because none are perfect). Just do what you can, study hard - because lives will be in your hands when you graduate and get a job.