4 Resources To Kick-Start Your College Search

Painting, University of Maryland, College Park

It begins in high school or even middle school for that matter, that panicky feeling in the pit of a parent’s stomach when you envision your teen’s future. What college will my child attend? Where will he get in? What will she study? What type of career can an art major lead to? What will it cost? All of those concerns, circling around in your brain can definitely stir up unwanted anxiety and panic.

When my kids were beginning high school I felt like I needed to know all the answers to these questions and more. Truth-be-told, I didn’t even know where to start and surely didn’t know which questions would help move me forward without generating more anxiety.

With that in mind, here are four smart and accessible resources to get your and your family started. It begins with conversations and asking questions – lots of questions.

  1. High School Counselor  These tireless advisors are true advocates for your children. Given the responsibility of guiding students through high school, they offer the ultimate in academic, personal, and developmental support. Traditionally they work with each student for four years, which gives them the chance to truly know your child and help with the transition to college. They offer specific college suggestions based on your child’s academic strengths, provide advice on grade point averages and standardized tests, and help with transcripts, recommendation letters, and much more.

    Wood shop, Carnegie Mellon University

  1. High School Art Teachers  Your high school art teachers are tour guides for your child’s creative exploration. They introduce teens to the basic principles of art and design and expand each student’s comprehension of the visual arts by familiarizing them with a diverse variety of artists, artistic styles, and media. As up-close observers, they assess your child’s creative skills, guide for strengths, and make suggestions for the future.
  1. Neighbors  If you have teens in high school then I’m guessing you have friends or neighbors with college age children as well. Although they haven’t walked in your exact shoes, they’ve been down this road before and should be a wealth of information. They can make recommendations based on their own experiences and offer up personal tidbits that you might not have heard of otherwise.
  1. Foley sound recording room, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film

    Art College Advisors  Yes, I’m tooting my own horn here, but I hope you’ll hear me out. Visual arts college consultants focus on the visual arts, period. We’re the ones engaging specifically with art colleges and with art and design programs across the country. We make it our business to learn the specifics about which program is top at which institution and the nuances that accompany each. And, because of our focus, we have a better understanding of what programs look for in future students. Gaining guidance in the details of course and portfolio prep, learning about the value each type of art program provides, and obtaining an understanding of future career opportunities won’t completely remove all that pre-college anxiety, but having a guide through the college search process will help you identify which path to traverse and help your teen find her best college fit.

As a parent, you’re the one with the front row seat to your child’s artistic strengths and passions. If you want to know how you can guide them to their best college fit, start talking. Even asking, “where do I begin?” or “how did you begin?” will get you going.

3 Paths to an Art Degree

Oregon State University

Oregon State University

Want to help your artistic son or daughter find the best college fit? Two key decisions made early in the search process can lead to a simpler and less stressful college search. Help them figure out what type of degree they want to pursue and what type of environment suits them best. The two go hand-in-hand, and it’s easier than it sounds. Here are three paths you’ll need to consider:

 

1 – Art and design colleges provide the ultimate in immersion. Most of your son’s time will be spent studying the arts, just like all his peers. Living and breathing art and design, and preparing for a future in the field are the focus here: 24/7. This is study with commitment. Roughly two-thirds of your teen’s time will be focused on the arts. Math, science and humanities play supporting roles, with subject matter that informs the arts. A BFA is most common.

Kenyon College

2 – One-on-one attention is in the DNA at liberal arts colleges. The emphasis is on teaching strong foundational skills like writing, critical thinking, and communication. Classes are typically small, with lots of discussion and opportunity for professors to get to know their students. Approximately one-third of students’ study time will focus on the arts and most graduate with a BA. Students major in a variety of subjects.

3 – Amenities are the name of the game at large college campuses. You want it; chances are the university will offer it. Football games, fraternities and sororities, and an affiliation with every organization known to mankind come to mind. So do opportunities to study across fields and even create your own major; think design and engineering, or biology and art. Interdisciplinary studies create endless learning possibilities. And, once on campus, if your daughter decides design isn’t her thing, she’ll have a wealth of other majors to consider.

Maine College of Art

Maine College of Art

Getting clear about what your teen wants to study, and what type of environment will be best for them will get everyone off to a great start. Begin your family conversations early, and include a visit to each type of campus if you can.

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The Battle of Versailles: A Fashion Evolution

Let’s see if you know your history. Does the 1973 battle of Versailles sound familiar? It won’t appear in most history books, but it was the year of an epic confrontation or contest, between the French and the Americans. And it changed the face of fashion, forever.

The battle – or faceoff as it was called – was witnessed by an exclusive list of 700 guests at Versailles Palace outside of Paris. But it was felt across the globe. A fundraiser to help restore the palace, it took the form of a groundbreaking runway show pitting five up-and-coming American designers against five top Parisian couture houses. Imagine a throw-down with Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Dior, and Givenchy competing against Oscar de la Renta, Halston, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, and Stephen Burrows. High style met new style.

The result was a tectonic shift in the fashion world: as the leading influence of fashion design moved from that which was strictly dictated by top designers and design houses to one that also absorbed and incorporated how women actually lived their lives.

Before then, Paris was fashion. Period.

Battle of versailles - fashionsizzle_dot_comRobin Givhan, Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic explains in her book The Battle of Versailles that Americans upended the traditional rules of fashion with a style and esthetic of color, jersey fabric, and movement. And, they broke racial barriers with an unprecedented 11 African American models. Clearly, it was an “aha” moment for the time. Fashion and culture evolved in that one historic event.

What’s the relevance today? Besides the value of knowing history is the awareness of how much fashion is influenced by the world around us. It evolves with us. That’s evident with each year’s New York, Paris, and subsequent fashion shows. And it’s apparent in the changing of the guard leading today’s top fashion houses.

Fashionista.com likes to keep its pulse on the fashion world, including fashion programs around the globe. If you think you may have a teenage trendsetter of your own at home make time to peruse their list of top schools. You’ll find some unexpected programs. Need further help deciphering the differences between schools, or how to organize your college search? Let me know. I’m happy to help.

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More Tools You Can Use

Cooper-Union

Cooper-Union

Finding the best art college fit requires research. That’s obvious. But often times it’s difficult to know what information you’re searching for. And then there’s the challenge of knowing where to find the answers. That’s where Art.College.Life. comes in. I love exploring and examining what each college has to offer, and then sharing it with you.

In my searching I’ve found that more and more colleges are beginning to list their complete course catalogs online. The benefits to parents and prospective students are simultaneously simple and significant. They provide the opportunity to explore an area of study before you actually explore an area of study – if you know what I mean.

Each college has a different set-up and some provide more extensive information than others, but the basic material is the same: an overview of what is actively taught in each class, the number of credits earned, and any required prerequisites.

University of the Arts

University of the Arts

The chance to peek across the threshold before you actually step there is often tempting, and in this case it’s informative. Students can gain a better understanding of what they’ll accomplish in each major and each course. If a subject matter isn’t enticing for you, here’s a way to know what to expect ahead of time. Or maybe it’s a subject to steer clear of, meaning you might need to consider a different major. Providing a more detailed view of what’s to come creates opportunity for clearer understanding and better planning. A great tool when you’re trying to find the best fit in a college art program.

Here’s an example of some of the course curricula available online:

Cleveland Institute of Art

Maryland Institute College of Art

Massachusetts College of Art & Design

School of Visual Arts (ex: Film & Video)

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