Graphic Design Programs

GD USA is an excellent resource for those working in the field of graphic design. In January, the online publication spotlighted their top picks of graphic design students to watch. 29 talented individuals made the list as tomorrow’s trailblazers and game-changers. Their collective contributions and experiences are already quite impressive.

This month GD is following it up with a list of 35 colleges – the ones who’ve nurtured, supported, and guided the previously-listed top students, plus a few more outstanding schools. The list of programs is diverse, including non-profit, for-profit, art and design colleges, and public universities. It provides a clear testament to the wealth of quality graphic design programs across the country.

You may ask what is graphic design, and what career paths will be available to those studying it?

As far as careers go, the sky’s the limit. Graphic design is the sharpest tool in today’s design toolbox, used to communicate ideas and information. Through images and typography, graphic design informs, inspires, and persuades in every field imaginable. Science and technology, healthcare, entertainment, education, business, hospitality, and government all need graphic design to communicate, advise, and guide us.

If graphic design sounds like your teen’s passion, GD’s list is a great place to begin your exploration of “best fit” programs.

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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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Searching for the Best College Fit

This past week I had the pleasure of participating in Bexley High School’s College Awareness Night, an event devoted to answering questions about college for teens and parents. During the evening, I led a wonderful discussion on the College Search Process for the Visual Arts. Our conversation focused on getting organized, identifying options and resources, and planning ahead for a successful search.

A few of the questions I answered included:

  • What are the differences between an arts college and a liberal arts college?
  • Can you explain what goes into a portfolio?
  • How do I determine which are the best art programs for my teen?

It was an energetic and engaging discussion.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 8.02.49 AM

Where are you in your search process? Are you feeling like you don’t know where to begin? Are you confused and overwhelmed in the midst of your teen’s search? Are you trying to compare multiple creative programs, or perhaps trying to understand the portfolio process?

If you answer “yes” to any of the above, give me a call. I’ll help you understand what decisions need to be made, alleviate some of the stress of your search, and help your family develop a plan to find the best college fit for your teen.

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5 Tips For Choosing The Right College

courtesy of College For Creative Studies

courtesy of College For Creative Studies

At the risk of being redundant, I’m going to revisit a post I wrote last year. The reason? Its decision time for seniors and their parents, and the words I wrote a year ago are true and applicable again today.

April is a critical time of year. Birds know it, flowers know it, and so do high school seniors. For the latter group it’s time to make your final choice of which college to attend in the fall. If you’re lucky enough to have been accepted to more than one college, read on. There are many factors that can – and should – influence you as you aim to find the best fit. I’ve listed a few tips that were helpful when my kids were going through the process.

1 – Get down to the details. Try to identify what entices you about each school. Is it the location? Cost? Studio space? The feel of campus, or something else? I place all of these factors into two basic categories: fit and finances. Make sure the programs available fit your wants and needs. Re-visit each school’s website and contact the school with any unanswered questions you still have. And DO let the financial package impact your decision. If the weight of paying back future loans feels oppressive now, it could feel even heavier later on. Are you eligible for merit aid? Is the financial aid package what you expected it to be? It’s not too late to ask about either.

MICA dorm

MICA dorm

2 – Go back to “walking the walk.” I know that deadlines are approaching quickly, but if you can, visit campus, especially if you haven’t done so already. I’ve said it before; there is nothing like a stroll around campus to see if it’s the right place for you. Take the tour, check out the studios and dorms, eat in the cafeteria, and talk to students and professors. My oldest son thought Tufts was a funny name for a university. Then he visited campus and exclaimed “wow, I love it here.” End of story.

3 – Trust your gut. This is easier than it sounds. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you but there are too many distractions for you to see clearly. If you can, narrow your choices down to two colleges, then flip a coin and mentally accept the results. You’ll probably feel joy, relief, or perhaps a bit of anguish. Those feelings will tell you the real right choice.

4 – If you get wait-listed don’t get too discouraged. You still have a chance to get in, even though it may be a small one. My first recommendation is to accept an offer from one of the institutions that admitted you. Pick a place you’d honestly like to attend. Then congratulate yourself; you’re going to college!

Believe it or not, that does remove a lot of the pressure. If you’re still focused on a wait-listed school let the school know as soon as possible; they like to know that they’re your top choice. Reach out to the school’s admissions counselor for your region, and express your interest. Tell him or her why you prefer their school. I’d also suggest sending additional information that can tip the scale in your favor. Examples might include recent additions to your portfolio, and an achievement or acknowledgement you’ve received since you applied.

5 – Breathe. Don’t forget to take time to sit back and congratulate yourself. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and you’re about to begin your life’s next great adventure. Enjoy the day dreams of what college will be like and look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead.
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In A Buckeye State of Mind

Student work - Department of Art 3-D Foundation course

Student work – Department of Art 3-D Foundation course

For many, searching for the right college begins with the question “art college or university?” The two choices lead to very different college experiences. And, true confessions here: I attended a state school and came away with an exceptional education. (Thank you, U Dub!) Unfortunately, I don’t live in Washington anymore, but Ohio offers some outstanding opportunities as well.

The Ohio State University (OSU) is one of the largest land-grant, research universities in the country. I thought they only did “big” in Texas, but OSU proves that theory wrong. Think 49,000+ undergraduate students, ½ million alumni, and 175 majors. Those numbers translate into significant opportunities and support for the Departments of Art, Arts Administration, Design, and Art History.

I’ve had the chance to tour both the Art and Design Departments, and I came away impressed. You won’t need a portfolio to gain acceptance into the university. However, you’ll need one for acceptance into one of the 10 majors these two departments provide. With guidance from professors and your foundation classes you’ll create one during freshman year (Design) and your sophomore year (Art) to compete for acceptance into your major of choice.

Industrial Design class

Industrial Design class

The two departments reside in buildings adjacent to each other, providing plenty of opportunity for cross-pollination. Both are competitive to gain entry. Only 80 students are accepted into the Department of Design’s Pre-Design program, which is narrowed down to 54 after freshman year. That equates to 18 new students each year joining one of three majors; Industrial Design, Interior Design, or Visual Communications. The end result is small classes with highly motivated students who graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Design, and excellent career opportunities.

The Department of Art is slightly larger but no less competitive. Students complete five foundation courses before gaining acceptance into the rigorous and challenging program. Those admitted earn a BFA in Art and Technology, Ceramics, Glass, Painting and Drawing, Photography, Printmaking, or Sculpture in a traditional studio environment. Also available is a Bachelor of Arts in Art, a more general degree for students wanting a career related to the arts.

Internships are highly encouraged, especially following sophomore year when students have more confidence in their skills. Study abroad opportunities are also encouraged, providing the chance to learn from other cultures and gain an international perspective.

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