As someone who spends an extensive amount of time in the forums I can honestly say that the same questions come up over and over again. Things about college, how to use certain programs, how to take commissions, etc. So I've decided to do an article series about these questions. There won't be a regular schedule to these, since they'll only be written when I start to see an abundance of the same questions coming up. Mostly, I just want to have something to link to so I don't have to write the same response to these questions over and over again.
Our first topic is going to be college related questions. If you have any suggestions for future topics, don't hesitate to note them to me for consideration.
Should I go to Art College?
What college you go to is definitely an important decision, and one you should think very carefully about. It is true that art can be self taught through the internet, but what can't anymore? While you can learn college level stuff through the internet, actually going to college can still have a lot of valuable benefits. It will give you a sounding board of similarly minded and skilled people who in the end may be one of your most powerful influences and learning tools. It will also allow you to make invaluable connections with other people in the art field. Most good art colleges will have teachers who work in the profession they teach and they will be able to help you find jobs, write you credible recommendations, etc. There's also the more structured style of learning that College will give you, which is very important for many people.
The best thing you can do is look at all your options for College and talk to your friends, family, and school counselors to make sure it is the right decision for you.
How do I know if a College is a good College?: Accreditation
The first thing you want to check for is that the school is accredited for your degree program.
What Is College Accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary, independent review of educational programs to determine that the education provided is of uniform and sound quality. Being awarded accreditation ensures that an institution has been evaluated and that it met set standards of quality determined by the accrediting organization granting the accreditation. A college or university's accreditation is maintained by continued adherence to the set criteria.
Why is College Accreditation Important? What Type of Accreditation Should I Look For?
There are several reasons accreditation is important besides ensurance of quality and adherence to academic standards. Accreditation determines a school's eligibility for participation in federal (Title IV) and state financial aid programs. Proper accreditation is also important for the acceptance and transfer of college credit, and is a prerequisite for many graduate programs.
How do I find out if a College is accredited?
The first thing to do is to check the college website. If you can't find out through their website, find a phone number you can call to talk to them or an e-mail. If they're evasive about answering you, chances are they aren't accredited.
More Info On College Accreditation
How do I know if a College is a good College?: Other factors to consider
There's a lot of stuff to consider when it comes to college and finding the right fit for you. Those things include tuition, graduation and employment rates, location, degree programs, who their teachers are and what experience they have in what they're teaching, etc. Most colleges should have this information on their website, sometimes under an FAQ section, sometimes under several different sections. Spend some time exploring the websites of the colleges you're interested in and if you can't find the information you're looking for then contact the college over e-mail or the phone and ask.
How do I find a college?
One of the best ways is through a college search website. Some high-schools will have private services you can use, but there are also free public websites you can look into such as Zinch, College Results, College Board, and many more. A simple Google search of "College Search Engine" will bring up a plethora of results for you to use. Keep track of the important factors about each college for easy comparison. Make a chart or a list so that you can easily compare the colleges you're looking at.
Are they Accredited?:
Do they have the degree program I'm interested in?:
Is boarding provided if I need it? At what cost?:
Entrance Requirements such as GPA, test scores, etc:
Once you have a good list, start narrowing it down to find the best fit for you, and apply to all the colleges on your final list.
How do I put together a good portfolio?
What qualifies as a good portfolio will vary from college to college as well as from degree program to degree program. The best thing for you to do is talk to the colleges you're interested in to see what they recommend. There are, however, some basics you can go by.
The more variety you can show in your portfolio, the better. It's okay to have pieces that follow the same theme, or are similar in some manner, but make sure to balance them out with other types of work. You can show variety through choice of media, style, etc.
Realism based works
Many colleges like to see that you have studied realism and have at least attempted several pieces in a realistic style.
The more recent your work is, the better. Don't be afraid to put in some older pieces though, it will show your growth as an artist.
A portfolio is a way to present your talents and tell colleges about yourself as an artist. Choose pieces that you think best demonstrate your talent and potential for growth as an artist. Colleges realize all students come into college with different levels of experience and different backgrounds, and they take this into account when reviewing your portfolio.
How do I write an artist statement?
Many colleges will ask you to include an artist statement with your portfolio. Artist statements are tricky things for a lot of people because many people feel like their work should speak for itself and they shouldn't need to explain their entire body of work in a few paragraphs. There's lots of good resources out there to help you to write a good artists statement, but one of my personal favorites is this one, but there are many more out there. It can also be helpful to look up artist statements of your favorite artists, to see how they've done it. Once you have one don't be afraid to show it to your friends and family to get their opinions.
How do I pay for college?
Depending on where you live, and what degree you're pursuing, college can be extremely expensive. Art schools seem to generally take the cake on this one though, in my own personal experience. There are a lot of options out there to help you pay for college though. One of your first stops should be scholarship websites such as Zinch, Fast Web, or Scholarships.Com. These sites will help you find not only scholarships, but grants and even loans. They will match you to different forms of financial support based on your degree, your age, your GPA and other factors. Once you've checked through those websites talk to your colleges as well. Many colleges have in-house scholarships you can apply for once you've been accepted. They can also refer you to scholarships that may not be easy to find online, or may not be listed online at all.
Will I be able to get a job in my chosen field after art college?
This varies widely based on a lot of factors including what school you go to, your portfolio once you graduate, what field you're going in to, and where you live to name a few. If you live an area where the arts are big you're more likely to get a job than if you live in the middle of nowhere, not that it isn't still possible there. The more variety and uniqueness to your art, the more likely you are to get hired. The best way to find out your chances of getting a job after college is to look at the post-school employment rates of the colleges you're looking at, and to talk to the colleges themselves.
When you're looking at colleges, the best thing to do is talk to your current school's counselors and the admissions offices of the colleges you're interested in. They will be able to answer your questions better than most other people and will be able to guide you through the process of applying to a college. Friends and family who have gone to college before can be very helpful to, so be sure to talk to them as well.