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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Trending: Are the SAT & ACT Really Necessary?

Transitions come in all shapes and sizes, and they happen for a variety of reasons. First-grade morphs into high school, Uber has upturned the taxi business, and landlines have lost out to cell phones. Transportation and communication will never be the same. Perhaps moms and dads won’t either.

SAT-scantronThe major shift affecting colleges these days is the diminishing requirement of standardized tests as part of the application process. According to WAMU 88.5 more than 850 colleges and universities across the country don’t require SAT/ACT test scores to gain admission. And that number is growing.

That’s the sign of a definite trend. What the end result will be, no one knows. In the meantime, the beneficiaries are college applicants who excel in other areas but not necessarily in taking standardized tests.

If your creative teen falls into this category you might want to take a second look at colleges that are test-optional or test-blind. The former schools will consider an SAT/ACT test score if submitted, the latter won’t even look at them.

colored pencilsThe National Center for Fair and Open Testing has compiled a comprehensive list of colleges that don’t require a standardized test. The schools on it come in all shapes and sizes from small to large, art-centered programs to general institutions, and private colleges to state universities.

What does this mean for your teen? Options abound – all across the country.

 

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The Sophomore Slump: 4 Tips To Keep Your Visual Artist Focused In High School

Typically referring to college, the sophomore slump can just as easily take place in high school. Even though high school has become a familiar place for your teen, now is no time to chill out. Colleges take sophomore year efforts and grades seriously. Your budding artist should too. So, how do you ensure that your teen avoids a second-year slump? A little bit of focus goes a long way.

Maintain your attention on grades. Colleges consider high school coursework and grades more telling than anything in their selection process. That being said, take note of the classes your teen is taking. Is she stretching herself artistically and academically? The most advanced studio and non-studio classes all have prerequisites. Honors Drawing and Painting preclude Studio Art and Independent Study just as Global History precludes AP U.S. Government. Now’s the time to reassess and refocus to ensure your burgeoning designer is on task to achieve her goals. Your high school guidance counselor and art teachers can help tweak her schedule and focus if needed.

NY Times

NY Times

Get ready for the SAT. Those bedeviling proficiency tests are looming. Whether an art school or university is in your creative’s future, taking them is necessary, and now is the time to get practicing. The PSAT and PLAN provide your teen with an introduction to the SAT and ACT exams respectively. These “practice” tests deliver real value: they lessen fears by getting your teen acquainted with what is unfamiliar and they convey an idea of the score range your teen can expect in next year’s real exams. Additionally, the PSAT is used to determine National Merit Scholarship awards. The PSAT and PLAN are typically taken in October. Check with your college counselor to know when your tests will be offered.

sophomore-yearEngage with your teen. Discover what he wants to study in college and uncover the type of college experience he envisions. Is a BFA or a BA the desired end result? The decision will impact the type of school he chooses. Does he prefer a large campus experience with a diverse student body and non-stop activities or will he thrive best in an environment that breathes art and design 24/7? Visiting colleges will give you and your student a sense for campus life as well as begin to define preferences for size and location. Pick diverse colleges to visit, make a plan about when you’ll tour, and use those long car drives to discuss his likes and dislikes.

Portfolio prep (c) ashcan school

Portfolio prep (c) ashcan school

Focus on portfolio development. This should be a top priority throughout high school regardless of where your teen applies. Many programs don’t require a portfolio for admission, but you’ll want to be prepared for either option. Also, just like muscles, repeated development and practice of artistic skills will only strengthen them. Your teen should be working with high school art teachers and engaging in outside artistic opportunities to broaden his abilities. Here the adage “practice makes perfect” definitely applies.

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Your Artistic Teen Is A High School Freshman: 4 Tips You Need Now!

The beginning of freshman year in high school can feel like a seismic shift for students – and parents. That’s because your child is on the way to adulthood, whether you’re ready for it or not. And, whether your freshman is an artist or designer, decisions made now will affect their future exponentially. Here are four tips to help you guide your creative kid through the next four years:

  1. freshman keep calm 2Pay attention to your teen’s schedule. Academic and artistic grades matter all four years and so do the difficulty of courses taken. Guide your teen wisely. Talk with your guidance counselors and outline a plan. Think about the progression of which classes are prerequisites for the ones your kid really wants to take. The end goals are honors and AP courses. Demanding class schedules demonstrate ambition and maturity, traits that colleges want to see. If your high school has subject tracks make sure to choose the one with the most art and design courses as well as the most challenging classes.
  1. Consider extracurricular activities. Your teen will gain immeasurable value from activities outside of school that relate to future college and career aspirations. After school art classes demonstrate the desire to grow beyond a traditional classroom environment. Volunteering at a local photography studio or working in an interior design office will teach a lot about the practical side of working as a creative. Both show colleges that your teen is an out-of-the-box thinker and is willing to push boundaries to gain better results.

On the warning side of this equation, be aware that extracurriculars can be taken too far. Authentic interest is essential. If a Saturday art class isn’t clicking then don’t push it. And don’t aim for quantity over quality. You might think that dabbling here, there, and everywhere shows broad interest and exploration. Most likely it will come across as trying too hard and a lack of commitment.

  1. LSU fashion photography

    LSU fashion photography

    Start exploring colleges. Did you know that creatives have three types of colleges available to them? Besides state universities and private liberal arts colleges, visual artists should also consider art and design colleges. The latter provide a 24/7 environment where art and design are incorporated into every class, and every student is seeking a creative career.

  1. Breathe! Don’t stress out. Job number one is a happy kid. If high school becomes only about getting into “the right college” then your family will have four years of misery with burnout as the end result. This time should be fun and full of exploration. If it isn’t, then maybe your teen needs to consider a different path.

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A Passionate Future or a Practical One: Do Students Need to Differentiate?

Parents are frequently tested. It just comes with the territory.

Naturally, we want our college-bound teens to have fulfilling majors and careers. If their passion is in science, math, or engineering (STEM) then they – and we – are lucky. Those are the fields of the future we’re advised. That’s where the lucrative careers are and will be.

rightbrain-leftbrainBut what about our creative offspring, those wanting to study and build careers based in the visual arts? Can’t they also have fulfilling and lucrative careers? Should we advise them to follow their passions, or towards what’s deemed a more practical future?

The answers don’t come easily. Doubts and questions arise about the long-term consequences of following one’s artistic passion. Job opportunities seem fewer and the chance of making a living often seems questionable.

Young visual artists, designers, and their parents should know about a great opportunity that’s smack in the middle of the STEM world. It’s the junction where technology meets creative. An article in last month’s LATimes spells it out from the perspective of CalArt’s president Steven D. Lavine. “Arts educators and technology chief executive officers are acknowledging once again that the two fields not only work hand-in-hand but that technological advances are often nourished by arts-inspired creative methods and critical thinking,” the article reads. Bottom line: engineers, entrepreneurs, and those in the tech world need our creative kids.

I’ve waxed before about the need to merge right-brain and left-brain thinkers. Analytical and linear thinkers need creative designers who process information holistically, and vice versa. There is great value in combining these diverse perspectives. Visual artists naturally think outside the proverbial box. And, the skills they learn in college – beyond the artistic ones – of persistence, incorporating criticism into newfound solutions, and teambuilding are beneficial to solving the technical problems of today and tomorrow.

CalArts has promoted this cross-pollination for decades. Other colleges are recognizing the value as well. When searching for college options for your teen, make sure to inquire about each one’s approach to the collaboration of these two fields. You’ll find more opportunities for your teen’s future, and more peace of mind for yourself.

 

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