Attending an art and design college is just like attending any other institution of higher learning: it is learning about what you love and how you can turn what you love into a career after you graduate.
Here are 5 key tips for the high school student interested in an art and design college in the college exploration process.
1. Be objective about your abilities and what you’ll present in your portfolio.
If every student that applied to an art and design college were the best at their craft then why would they need to attend school? The reality is, like within any field, there is always more to learn and the time to refine what is already known.
Mom and Dad may think your skills are great, you may think you’re great and you honestly might just be great…but know that when schools are reviewing your work they are looking for your potential. Consider what you present in four areas:
- Technique: How well you handle whatever media you decide to work with.
- Concept: Choose artwork that communications your ideas.
- Risk-taking: Get out of your comfort zone.
- Dedication: Time and effort should be evident.
Being objective may be hard and that is why asking for feedback and input from art educators at high school or at the colleges which a student is exploring is critical—and strongly encouraged.
Check out these portfolio building tools: Portfolio Development.
2. Think about possible career opportunities now.
You might want to major in illustration, but that doesn’t mean you can only be a cartoonist at a newspaper. You may just end up doing illustration for an urban planning company. Focus in a future career field is wonderful, but thinking bigger and differently will enable you to ask more. And most of you will be working in careers that are still evolving with new technologies.
3. Don’t be shy, network with alumni.
Once you’ve narrowed down your college selection, ask the admissions office to share with you where alumni are working and how they are using their degrees. Most college’s web sites will feature alumni profiles.
4. Take the college for a test drive.
Look for summer programs that give you an opportunity to live and work on a campus for a week or even longer. You’ll get a feel for the city, the campus and the faculty.
5. Think outside the box.
Creative students should be creative in the college exploration process. There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the
United States; schools of art and design are about 10 percent of that total.
That means there is than one school that will be just right for you. The school down the road from home is a great place to start doing your exploration if it has the programs you believe you are interested, but don’t forget to consider the over 400 more options out there that may just be the best place to spend your college years studying and creating.
Densil R. R. Porteous II is the Director of Admissions for Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD). Prior to joining CCAD he was an assistant dean of admission for marketing and outreach at Stanford University and an associate dean/director of college counseling at the Drew School in San Francisco. He is a graduate of Kenyon College.