How-To

How To Choose An Art School

It’s no secret that most art careers are highly competitive. So it’s not surprising that college degrees are becoming increasingly necessary for artists hoping to make it in tough job markets. However, art school is more than just a right of passage or a hoop to jump through. Advanced education allows you to refine your talent and learn how to market your art or performance skills. It’s the education and experience, not just the diploma, that can help you build the right foundation for your career as an artist.

Choosing the art school that’s right for you is a very important and a very personal decision. There are a number of factors to consider when selecting an art school:

Experience:

Will the school you are considering allow you to use previous educational or work experience to fulfill graduation requirements? Do you need to submit a portfolio with your application?

Career Goals:

Will the program qualify you for the career you want? Are there licensing or certification requirements you’ll need to meet for professional practice? Does the school have the right accreditation?

Resources:

How much time and money do you have to dedicate to your education?

Location:

Where do you want to study? Will you stay in your home state, or do you wish to move?

Environment:

What sort of environment suits you best - big city, small town, competitive environment or close circle of support?

Know Your Goals & Timeline:

Are you hoping to begin your career as quickly as possible? Do you want to teach art or qualify for art administrative positions? Answering questions like these will help you determine how to proceed with your education. Taking your current level of experience, your career goals and timeline into consideration will help you select the level and type of degree that is right for you. Once you have determined your priorities and needs, you should be able to narrow down your school search.

Know the Faculty:

Before you enroll in a program, find out who’s on the faculty. If you’re interested in the performing arts, you may be attracted to programs with famous artists. Having a teacher who is well-known may mean good connections in the industry, but even more important will be their ability to teach and pass their knowledge on to you.

  • Check out the faculty, and find out about their industry experience by reading their biographies or through personal contacts.
  • If possible, visit the school to meet key teachers and understand their teaching styles.
  • Sit in on classes and observe.
  • Talk with current students.

Learn About the Facilities:

If you are a dancer, you will want to see the size and condition of the facilities where you will be dancing. Does the program have one or more large studios with sprung floors, stages equipped for dance productions, and musicians available for classes?

So many of the art and design fields require specialized equipment now. Is the school equipped with the latest technology? How available is the equipment for student use? Do 50 students have to share one camera? Or is there one camera for every two students?