College is a time for exploration. A four-year opportunity to throw caution to the wind; to try new adventures, expand your horizons, test yourself, and dream where your future might lead you. A time to take classes in subjects you’ve always dreamed of, and never dreamed of. However, especially in this day and age, college is also a time to be practical and pragmatic. Rising tuition costs and student loan debt are a reality, and must be considered when making a college choice.
Artists need to carefully consider their undergraduate options. Deciding to study art often leads to questioning and criticism about practicality being thrown out the window. Where you study can have a large impact on your career after college. That’s just one of the reasons why I think college tours – and the limitless questions you should consider when touring – need to be an essential part of every student’s decision process.
Jeff Selingo, editor at large at The Chronicle of Higher Education, recently wrote an excellent and detailed article about the pros and cons of summer college tours. They are the best of times and the worst of times. Summer tours provide families freedom from high school and sports schedules to walk the walk, yet unfortunately they’re at a time when fewer students are on campus, giving a possible inaccurate image of what student life is really like. However, they’re still definitely worth the effort.
Jeff offers a “to do” list of questions to explore while on campus. For artists I’d add: make sure you tour studio spaces, inquire how many professors are working artists, inquire about working internships, and make sure to visit the career services office. The first of these will show you where you’ll spend most of your time on campus, and the latter three will help you better understand how the college will help connect you to a career after graduation.
Selecting where you’ll spend the next four years of your life is not an easy endeavor. Wherever you choose, you’ll want to make sure it provides you with lots of opportunities to dream, and then well-worn paths to apply those dreams to reality.