Decision Time For the SAT: In with the New or Stay with the Old?

Parents of high school students are most likely aware that changes are coming soon to the SAT. High school juniors and seniors especially need to be in the know. The last test date for the current SAT is January 23, 2016. In March, the new one takes over. Now is the time for strategic family conversations to either go with what you know or wait for the new version.

So what’s all the fuss about the switch? Plenty. For those who can take either, this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. If your teen has already been studying with prep-tests and seems to have a feel for the type of questions asked, I’d opt for the current version. On the other hand if your family isn’t at that stage yet and can wait it out a few extra months, I’d most likely suggest going with the new version. Arguments can be made for both sides.

The College Board has two SAT sites now, one for the old, another for the new. And a recent New York Times article explains the abundance of changes.

Here’s the bottom line of what you need to know:

  • March 5, 2016, is debut day for the new SATstopwatch
  • The test consists of two sections now instead of three: Math, and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
  • Students won’t be penalized for guessing answers anymore
  • The new test requires a lot more reading – even in the math section
  • Archaic and obsolete language are out of the reading sections, current language is in
  • Math sections dive deeper into each subject area, and more advanced math from a greater number of courses is included. This may tip the scale towards taking the test later in high school
  • The essay will become optional, and relies more on reading and comprehension than in the past

The new SAT is heavily based on the Common Core curriculum. Translation: it’s centered on what students are actually learning in school now. Again, if you’ve got the time I’d research both before making a decision.

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Look who’s advocating for the arts?

I know that I promised a post about Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art this week. But, I happened to find inspiration for art.college.life. in two unexpected places, so CMU will need to wait a week. I hope you’ll forgive me.

It’s not every day – ok, it’s rare – to find artistic vision from political columnists or corporate magazines. This past week provided those exceptions.

follow your passion signDavid Brooks is a well-known conservative political and cultural writer for The New York Times with a long-standing resume. In Friday’s newspaper, he wrote about the passion-driven among us, and the benefit they bring to the rest of society. Nice words to hear for those driven to study the arts.

I also stumbled across an article on Forbes.com highlighting the benefits of an art degree. And the strong career opportunities that lay ahead.

Hello? Where am I? Have I fallen into an alternate universe?

human figure2In this day and age when studying math and science, and earning a large salary still dominate conversations for career-focused high school parents, it’s encouraging and refreshing to hear from two business savvy representatives of the value – both now and for the future – of “leaning in” towards the arts.

Skepticism is common among parents of those wanting to study the arts. I get that. To me – these two articles speak to allowing our kids to be who they are, giving them the room to find themselves, and accepting that studying the arts can lead to incredible and challenging future careers. I know that sounds counter to common belief. I hope you’ll read both articles. And let me know what you think.

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What Is The Future Face of Animation?

Inside Out movie poster

Inside Out movie poster

Consider Pixar’s newest film, Inside Out, to be released on June 19th. The movie’s plot centers on an 11-year old girl and the many voices she hears inside her head. They’re the voices of her emotions, each one clamoring for her attention. It’s a clever way to build multiple characters into one. But the detail that you really don’t want to miss is the main character herself: an 11-year old girl.

Animation is changing before our very eyes, in part because of women and girls. We’ve witnessed strong and successful female characters in Pixar’s Brave and Disney’s Frozen. But changes are happening behind the scenes as well. Dreamworks Feature Animation got into the act earlier this year when they named two women as co-presidents.

What’s behind the change? Start with the fact that young girls are getting introduced to the world of animation through the rise in female characters in online gaming – something that wasn’t happening just a few short years ago. Simultaneously more and more women are attending college. A recent Los Angeles Times article puts these two together, detailing the trend of an increasingly female population studying this fast growing art form. 

The Incredibles

The Incredibles

If your daughter is leaning towards animation, she could be on the cusp of something big and transformational. Males still dominate in the workplace, but a shift is definitely afoot.

If you’re trying to determine where to start your animation program search, try here. The colleges I posted about are still at the top and worthy of your attention.

Obviously the next step to consider is a career path. Fortune Magazine lists the 100 Best Companies To Work For each year, and two to note are gaming companies, Riot Games (#13), and Activision Blizzard (#96). 

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The Value of a College Tour

University of Michigan

Tour season is here. The snow has finally melted and families are eager to get outside, outside to explore campuses without all that snow. Colleges feel the same anticipation. Warmer weather brings spring flowers and students engaged in outdoor activities, resulting in picturesque scenes just as recruitment season kicks into gear for next year’s freshmen.

Those of you who regularly read my posts know what a strong proponent I am of touring colleges. Researching various programs and talking with admissions representatives are essential initial steps in the search process. However, they need to be followed up by a campus visit to determine if the fit is right. Nothing compares to setting foot on concrete and brick covered pathways, and through dorm and classroom building hallways.

Keeping that in mind, we all know that the costs associated with touring every campus your teen wants to explore can become exorbitant. Blame it on the Internet and the Common App; the times we live in encourage students to apply to numerous institutions. And often times, they seem to be scattered across the country.

College admissions personnel understand your predicament. That’s one of the reasons why more and more of them provide virtual tours through their websites. The tours are great tools, offering a realistic glimpse of campus.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 7.47.07 PMSCAD is striding even further down the path of virtual tours. They’re ahead of other colleges, but I’m sure that will soon change. The school now offers a virtual reality (VR) system to prospective students. They manufactured cardboard VR headsets which when hooked up to your cell phone provide an in-depth virtual tour from your own living room. Does your son want to attend SCAD’s campus in Hong Kong or LaCoste, France? No problem. Assemble your VR kit, hook it up and you’re there. It’s smart and cool.

I’m convinced this application will only expand in use among higher education institutions. It makes sense. Easing family stress during the college search process while enticing prospective students is a win-win. But please don’t let it replace a real visit if you can. VR tours are almost like being there.

While they do provide a realistic preview, VR tours – in any form – don’t provide the chance to interact with students in the hallways, to taste cafeteria food, and to actually feel that the campus culture and vibe is the right one for your teen.

My recommendation; traveling to college campuses during the early part of your search can be a valuable tool that helps your family understand the varied types of college campuses to choose from. Then, when its time to really make a decision, it can be the exclamation point on their search.

Want to learn more about the different types of campuses? I’ll address it in my next post. In the meantime, make sure to follow Art.College.Life. on facebook and twitter for all the latest news.

More Ways To Get Inspired

Courtesy of Art Center College of Design

Courtesy of Art Center College of Design

Fall has definitely arrived. My front doorstep is beginning to pile high with leaves, and my inbox is overflowing with emails from colleges and universities. The change in season seems to kick-start the collegiate lecture and workshop circuit, just when I’m looking for some artistic inspiration and am ready to spend more time indoors. Perfect!

Colleges and universities show off their smarts by hosting community-gathering events, led by some very talented and creative individuals. What a great way to learn from those who are working in the arts, creating opportunities, and pushing boundaries. Here’s a chance to broaden your horizons, change your perspective, and get inspired.

I’ve highlighted some individual events as well as entire series’. Make sure to check them out, and do a bit of digging in your own backyard.

Pratt – New York
The Art of Dining: How Master Chefs and Designers Collaborate (October 23)

Columbia University – New York
School of the Arts
Fall 2014 public programs

University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI
Visiting artists 2014-2015
Holland Cotter, Art Critic for The New York Times (October 30)
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160; 6:00 pm

Southern Methodist University – Dallas, TX
Meadows School of the Arts
Fall 2014 Lecture Series

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – Philadelphia, PA
Visiting Artists Program

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