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Choosing an Art School

In the end, you’re the one who chooses your own art school. Regardless of what any number of art school ranking lists and guidebooks floating around out there will tell you, the final decision rests in your own hands. What a certain college does for your best friend’s older brother might not appeal to you, and your boss’s or parent’s advice might not prove a good fit. So how do you judge whether an art college is the right one for you? Here are some criteria to consider while you make your decision.

SIZE

Big or small? 4,000 or 400 in your graduating year? Or perhaps you’d prefer a class of one, in your own bedroom while taking an online art class? Size is one of the most important factors for a student first beginning their art college search, because the experience at a large, bustling university and a small, cozy one are completely different. It’s up to you to decide which one suits your personality.

FACULTY

The main focus of going to an art school is, of course, the invaluable education you’re looking to receive. The people who teach you will shape your perspectives and your artistic techniques, so get to know a little about them. The best professors will have published articles or had their own artwork exhibited or been asked to speak at a conference, so researching them should yield a general idea of the faculty teaching at your college. However, don’t just take a big name at face value—you also need to weigh in factors such as the faculty-student ratio and how often teaching assistants step in to take over a class. Even if your professor heads the most distinguished oil painting society in America, that won’t be of use to you if she’s always too busy traveling to teach your gigantic class of 500.

STUDENTS

Your fellow art students will, in many ways, define your art school experience. It’s inarguable that each school has its own unique atmosphere, an inimitable mix of people from various backgrounds that blend together to form the student body. Reviews and word of mouth can only tell you so much in this case; the best way to get a feel for the other students is to visit schools personally.

FACILITIES

The facilities available to you are absolutely crucial to an art student. Every art college will have a general studio, but depending on your intended major, you may need far more. Photographers, for example, might want a student-accessible dark room, film majors would salivate over an on-campus, student-run theater with a working projector, and fashion design students require sewing machines and textile storerooms aplenty. Take an in-depth look into what sorts of studios, auditoriums, and other facilities your art college has to offer you—the supplies, the locations, the sizes, the hours they stay open.

Facilities are more than just the buildings erected on campus. As an art student who is constantly taking creative cues from the environment around you, you also need to consider the broader context of your campus. What’s the weather like for most of the year? If you’re an aspiring plein air painter, you might be drawn in by a college with beautiful balmy weather or one that has a plethora of glass-enclosed balconies to work on. Is your campus smack in the middle of a bustling downtown center or nestled among the hills in a picturesque but lonely countryside? If you’re an urban photographer who likes to walk the streets for subjects, you’ll gravitate towards the first rather than the second. Art students need to be choosy.

HISTORY

Consider the history behind your art school of choice. Older art schools often have the benefit of experience and run a smoother operation, yet conversely, newer ones may lure you in with their more liberal ideas and fresher ways of thinking, always a plus in the art world. Do a bit of research into your own art college’s background and the associations that its name carries.

STUDY ABROAD

While not a factor for everyone, some students dream of painting the canals of Venice or snapping shots of street life in Singapore. You might be interested in looking at the study abroad options that your art school has to offer: which countries are available, what partner schools they’re affiliated with, how long the sessions last, whether the cost of your tuition will change. Seeing the world, expanding your horizons, inspiring yourself and giving your creativity a new jolt—studying abroad can be a transforming experience for the still-budding artist.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Connections, connections, connections. Some people will argue that that’s what college is really for: getting to know the right people so that when you leave, you’ll be set. While that cutthroat philosophy is debatable, it’s true that many art students worry about where they’ll end up after graduation and what their degree can do for them. With that thought in mind, you might want to look up a few statistics about your art school, such as how easily graduates find jobs, which professions and companies they move into, and whether there are job fairs and affiliated companies that take an interest in students from your college.

ACCREDITATION

It won’t affect the way you go about your campus life, but a background check on your desired art school’s accreditation is mandatory. It’s helpful to do this first, because without accreditation, your school’s credibility falls, and with it, your own degree’s credibility. Accreditation is a mark of quality that changes the very nature of an art college—whether students are eligible for financial, if credits are accepted by other institutions—and should remain high on the list for any curious student.

These categories are just a few broad areas to keep in mind when narrowing your search focus. No one alone will make or break or decision, and ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which is the most important. Of course all aspiring artists dream of getting their education at the “perfect” college, and indeed there are many who find one that fits them like a glove. You might find that you have to make some compromises, however, sacrificing that sunlit 24-hour dorm studio for this professor that you’ve always admired. The search process can be both exciting and painful, so let us help you get started!





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St Mary's College of Maryland Performing Arts Four-year school St. Mary's City, MD 2060 Town/Rural Public
Taylor University Performing Arts Four-year school Upland, IN 2559 Town/Rural Private
Washington - Holmes Technical Center Architecture | CAD, Drafting Two-year school Chipley, FL 652 Town/Rural Public
Emerson College Animation | Audio Production | Film, Video, TV | Game Design | Performing Arts | Visual Effects | Web Design & New Media Four-year school Boston, MA 4556 City Private
University of New Mexico - Main Campus Architecture | Film, Video, TV | Landscape Architecture | Performing Arts Four-year school Albuquerque, NM 27241 City Public
Saddleback College Animation | Architecture | Audio Production | Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising | Film, Video, TV | Graphic Design | Interior Design | Performing Arts | Photography | Visual Effects | Web Design & New Media Two-year school Mission Viejo, CA 23260 Suburb Public
Oxnard College Advertising | Animation | Audio Production | Film, Video, TV | Fine Art, Drawing, Painting | Game Design | Illustration | Visual Effects | Web Design & New Media Two-year school Oxnard, CA 8642 City Public
San Jacinto Community College Advertising | Audio Production | Film, Video, TV | Interior Design | Performing Arts Two-year school Pasadena, TX 27011 Suburb Public
Contra Costa College Architecture Two-year school San Pablo, CA 8316 Suburb Public
Delaware Technical and Community College - Terry Advertising | Architecture | Interior Design | Photography | Web Design & New Media Two-year school Dover, DE 3406 City Public
Hickey College Advertising Four-year school Saint Louis, MO 480 Suburb Private
University of Akron Main Campus Advertising | Arts Management | Audio Production | Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising | Film, Video, TV | Fine Art, Drawing, Painting | Graphic Design | Performing Arts | Photography | Web Design & New Media Four-year school Akron, OH 25959 City Public
SAE Institute of Technology - New York Audio Production Less than two years New York, NY N/A City Private
Point Loma Nazarene University Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising | Fine Art, Drawing, Painting | Graphic Design | Interior Design | Performing Arts Four-year school San Diego, CA 3487 City Private
West Virginia University at Parkersburg Animation | Game Design | Visual Effects Four-year school Parkersburg, WV 4223 Suburb Public
The College of New Jersey Advertising | Web Design & New Media Four-year school Ewing, NJ 6980 Suburb Public
Mesalands Community College Fine Art, Drawing, Painting Two-year school Tucumcari, NM 991 Town/Rural Public
University of Phoenix - Savannah Campus Web Design & New Media Four-year school Savannah, GA 802 Town/Rural Private
Waubonsee Community College Architecture | Audio Production | CAD, Drafting | Film, Video, TV | Graphic Design | Photography | Web Design & New Media Two-year school Sugar Grove, IL 10532 Town/Rural Public
Virginia State University Advertising | Performing Arts Four-year school Petersburg, VA 5366 Suburb Public
Metro Technology Centers Graphic Design Two-year school Oklahoma City, OK 1172 City Public
Southeast Missouri State University Architecture | CAD, Drafting | Performing Arts Four-year school Cape Girardeau, MO 10801 Town/Rural Public
Isothermal Community College Advertising | Audio Production | CAD, Drafting | Film, Video, TV Two-year school Spindale, NC 2674 Town/Rural Public
Arizona Western College Animation | Architecture | Audio Production | CAD, Drafting | Film, Video, TV | Performing Arts | Visual Effects Two-year school Yuma, AZ 7984 Town/Rural Public
Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center Graphic Design Less than two years Johnstown, PA N/A Suburb Public
Lynn University Advertising | Film, Video, TV | Graphic Design | Performing Arts | Photography Four-year school Boca Raton, FL 2224 City Private
Purdue University - North Central Campus Architecture | CAD, Drafting Four-year school Westville, IN 4463 Town/Rural Public
The New England Conservatory of Music Performing Arts Four-year school Boston, MA 785 City Private
Cosumnes River College Advertising | Architecture | Audio Production | CAD, Drafting | Film, Video, TV | Graphic Design | Performing Arts | Photography | Web Design & New Media Two-year school Sacramento, CA 15946 City Public
Elmira College Fine Art, Drawing, Painting | Performing Arts Four-year school Elmira, NY 1634 City Private
Hofstra University Advertising | Audio Production | Film, Video, TV | Performing Arts Four-year school Hempstead, NY 12068 Suburb Private
The Art Institute of Tennessee - Nashville Animation | Audio Production | Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising | Film, Video, TV | Game Design | Graphic Design | Interior Design | Photography | Visual Effects | Web Design & New Media Four-year school Nashville, TN 717 City Private
Stephens College Advertising | Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising | Film, Video, TV | Graphic Design | Interior Design | Performing Arts Four-year school Columbia, MO 1231 City Private
Augusta State University Web Design & New Media Four-year school Augusta, GA 7061 City Public
ITT Technical Institute - Maumee CAD, Drafting | Graphic Design Four-year school Maumee, OH 581 Suburb Private
Warren Wilson College Performing Arts Four-year school Swannanoa, NC 1028 Suburb Private
Aiken Technical College CAD, Drafting Two-year school Graniteville, SC 3268 Town/Rural Public
Northwood University - Florida Advertising | Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising Four-year school West Palm Beach, FL 731 City Private
Washington College Performing Arts Four-year school Chestertown, MD 1368 Town/Rural Private
Riverside City College Animation | Architecture | Audio Production | Film, Video, TV | Game Design | Graphic Design | Photography | Visual Effects Two-year school Riverside, CA 36586 City Public
Western Wyoming Community College Fine Art, Drawing, Painting | Performing Arts Two-year school Rock Springs, WY 4079 Town/Rural Public
EDP College of Puerto Rico Inc - San Juan Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising | Graphic Design Four-year school San Juan, PR 1026 City Private
Purdue University - Main Campus Animation | Architecture | CAD, Drafting | Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising | Graphic Design | Landscape Architecture | Performing Arts | Visual Effects Four-year school West Lafayette, IN 41052 Suburb Public
Chaffey College Advertising | Animation | Architecture | Audio Production | CAD, Drafting | Fashion Design, Marketing, Merchandising | Film, Video, TV | Fine Art, Drawing, Painting | Game Design | Graphic Design | Illustration | Interior Design | Performing Arts | Photography | Visual Effects | Web Design & New Media Two-year school Rancho Cucamonga, CA 21399 Suburb Public
Meridian Community College Audio Production | Film, Video, TV | Web Design & New Media Two-year school Meridian, MS 3949 Town/Rural Public
Pima Community College Animation | Architecture | CAD, Drafting | Film, Video, TV | Game Design | Graphic Design | Performing Arts | Visual Effects | Web Design & New Media Two-year school Tucson, AZ 35880 City Public
Allen County Community College Performing Arts Two-year school Iola, KS 3124 Town/Rural Public
Freed - Hardeman University Advertising | Graphic Design | Interior Design | Performing Arts Four-year school Henderson, TN 2027 Town/Rural Private
Bennett College for Women Arts Management | Performing Arts Four-year school Greensboro, NC 766 City Private
North Central College Advertising | Animation | Audio Production | Film, Video, TV | Game Design | Graphic Design | Performing Arts | Visual Effects Four-year school Naperville, IL 2798 City Private



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