Swimming in the Pool of College Applicants: How Your Artsy Teen Can Be a Winner

Olympian Ryan Lochte

The time of year always brings it out. Start with a mix of winter cold and overcast skies, add in some snow, feelings of being cooped up together indoors, and presto: apprehension, pressure, and anxiousness about college options and choices rear their ugly heads. The phenomenon is common for high school sophomores, juniors, and their parents alike. No wonder; there are so many parts and pieces to this puzzling process. They each require thoughtful attention. It can be exasperating and exhausting.

But let’s step back a minute. Beyond grades, test scores, and all those other requirements the question needs to be addressed: what will really differentiate your artsy teen from the rest of the college applicant pool?

I believe the answer lies in considering the bigger picture and focusing – now – on your teen’s demonstrated interest. In college-search terminology “demonstrated interest” mostly refers to a teen’s exhibited desire to attend a particular institution. How many times has your son been in contact with the college? Has he attended an on-campus information session or met with the admissions representative? There are numerous ways to reach out and “touch” a college or university, but I’m not referring to that type of expression here. What I’m talking about zeros in on your teen’s passion for art and design, their dedication and drive to create. Whether their focus is on a variety of visual arts or just one specific craft, demonstrating the desire to spend time making art is key.

Rapt Studio, California

Ask yourself, does your daughter repeatedly lose track of time to her detailed drawings? Does your son spend countless hours sketching and studying fashion trends? Is either one clamoring to attend another summer art program? That’s demonstrating interest, and passion. The objective here is to capitalize on that focus.

I’ve put together a few tips for you to consider.

  • Take advantage of all that your high school offers,
  • Research after school and weekend art classes,
  • Search for volunteer opportunities that will let your teen apply her creative talents,
  • Network for internships in a design firm or art museum, and
  • Encourage artistic self-exploration.

Yes, these will enhance that high school resume, but isn’t that, in part, what we’re talking about? It may also seem like I’m just piling onto the “must do” list. The reality is – here’s a chance to put your teen’s interest and dedication to the test. The value will be apparent in an engaged teenager who will have a more in-depth comprehension of a potential college major and career path. Their focus will help them stand out in the applicant crowd and improve their chances of getting accepted to the colleges they want to attend.

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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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What’s Missing From Your Portfolio?

 

 

(c) CloudKid animation

(c) CloudKid animation

MassArt alumnae Dave Schlafman and Matt Karl founded CloudKid, an up-and-coming artist-driven studio based in the Boston area. Their young company has received attention for creating award-winning games, animations, apps, and websites for the likes of Nickelodeon, Hasbro Toys, PBS Kids, Scholastic, and Disney Online. Pretty cool.

If you’re interested in animation and kids, this sounds like a creative and collaborative place to work. But here’s the thing; they recently posted a blog about the difficulty they’re having searching for a good animator. The message: drive and passion need to be visible.

The post offers up suggestions for future job seekers but is applicable to future college students as well. The insight and advice shared could help you land a job with CloudKid or help you gain acceptance into the college of your dreams. Either way, my suggestion is to read on, and keep drawing…

 

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Which Animation Program Is Best For You?

Does location matter?animation - bart simpson

In this case it might. The 2014 list of top Animation college programs is out from Animation Career Review (ANC). Coming as no surprise, those at the top of the list represent some of the best art and design colleges in the country. And, three of the top five are in California. Why, you may ask? The answer is Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks.

For many designers and fine artists, college location may not play a significant role in your future career. Companies recruit graduates from across town and around the globe today, so students have flexibility. However, as you narrow down your college search, considering proximity to future jobs isn’t a bad idea either. Studying and learning in a geographic environment with accessibility to numerous professionals working in your field will provide added value. Having a high concentration of internships, networking opportunities and potential jobs in your backyard can only prove beneficial to your future.

animation - disneys frozen2ANC’s top five programs include:

Cal Arts
USC
SCAD
RISD
UCLA

I have to add that while researching this topic further I found a 2013 ranking of top employers by Fortune Magazine. To my knowledge, Fortune hasn’t published a 2014 ranking yet, but I thought this was worthwhile to share, especially since it highlights Dreamworks Animation studio.

 

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Study Abroad

Lucca, Italy

Lucca, Italy

I’ll take my inspiration wherever I can find it. And lucky for me, during the past couple of weeks inspiration has come from time spent in Switzerland and Italy. From the jagged Swiss Alps to the rolling Tuscan countryside and the azure waters along the Almafi Coast, nature was at her finest, showing off sweeping landscapes and breathtaking views. Complementing it all was the wonder of art and design depicted in centuries’ old sculpture, fresh off the runway fashions, and everything in between.

It got me thinking about studying abroad, and how just one semester’s exposure to a different cultural experience can positively affect your point of view – forever. I can think of no better way to gain a global perspective than by living and learning in a different county.

Consider fashion design in Paris or Milan, photography in the south of France, animation and illustration in Hong Kong. The benefits of studying abroad are endless. You’ll be challenged by new ways of thinking while you acquire new insights and skills, new inspirations, new connections, lifelong friends, independence and maturity, and possibly even a new language. And with direct exposure to art history, (yes that is Michelangelo’s David), and cutting-edge design that the U.S. hasn’t yet seen, (where do you think Smart Cars came from?), you’ll acquire an appreciation for multicultural differences and influences, and a clearer understanding of your artistic place in the world.

church details, Lucca, Italy

church details, Lucca, Italy

I’m not aware of a college or university that doesn’t offer study abroad options to their students these days. Research the colleges that peak your interest. Some will offer their own specific programs while others collaborate with international institutions. Also, make sure you understand which courses are available each year, and what credits are transferable back to your home campus. Again – costs will vary, but scholarships are available.

Here are just a few of the programs I researched. I hope you’ll examine them and others.

University of the Arts

Cleveland Institute of Art

SCAD

SVA

University of Michigan (where study abroad is a requirement for all art and design students)

The experiences you’ll have abroad will stick with you forever. Paintings, sculpture, hillside vineyards, store windows, tiny designer cars, leather goods, and the presentation of pasta on a plate all influence and are influenced by design and art. And I’m just talking about what I experienced in Switzerland and Italy. There’s a whole world out there to learn from. Go check it out!

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