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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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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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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Defining Art and Design

stacking bowlsPiqued by the inquiry of a high school parent, I’ve been muddling over this question in my mind for a while now; what is the difference between art and design?

A few weeks ago I posed the question to Gabe Tippery; the Academic Advisor for Ohio State University’s Department of Design. His response seemed simple yet right on target. To paraphrase his words; given a blank piece of paper, an artist will create something that comes from within them, something they feel the need to express. Designers, on the other hand, mostly need a problem to solve in order to put pen to paper.

Gabe isn’t the only one with this mindset. In researching the question I found numerous opinions on the subject that support his theory. To define it in a bit more detail:

Field of Corn, Dublin, OH

Field of Corn, Dublin, OH

Artists are driven to share their thoughts and ideas, period. They’re inspired and motivated to express themselves without boundaries imposed by others. My husband and I call it “art for art’s sake.”

On the other side of the spectrum are our problem-solving designers. They begin with boundaries, and a need for their creativity to spur others into action. They incentivize people to purchase a product, use a service, feel a particular feeling about a space, or learn new information.

Many colleges and universities will divide their art programs into a fine arts division and a design division. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take courses across the divide. In fact, learned skills from both can only help build your comprehensive understanding of the creative environment. A good designer cannot be void of artistic talent, and a fine artist’s creativity will come through along whatever career path he or she travels.

For me, I definitely live in both worlds. How about you?

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Benefits Of A Summer Program

Ringling College of Art & Design

Ringling College of Art & Design

I’d like to tell you that spring is in the air, but honestly I’m just not feeling it. Snow is all around and there isn’t a crocus or daffodil in sight. But spring and even summer should be on your mind because now is the time to plan for a pre-college art or design summer program.

During June, July and August, large and small colleges across the country offer one – to – six week opportunities for high school students to become immersed in a creative collegiate experience.  Depending upon the institution, courses can range from life drawing or game design, to fashion, photography, and portfolio development.

The benefits are tremendous. Here’s your chance to learn from working artists while you gain new skills, find a new passion, and gain a clearer understanding of college-level work.  Grow as an artist while you work on your portfolio and live among like-minded artisans.

I’ve listed a few programs to jump-start your research. While doing your own exploration I hope you’ll keep these key points in mind:

  • On-campus living opportunities vary from program to program.
  • Some summer programs offer college credit.
  • Many programs have a minimum age requirement of 16.
  • Application, financial aid, and scholarship deadlines vary by institution.

Time spent in an intensive summer program will prove to be a worthwhile experience as you plan for your transition to college. I hope you take the time to research some options close to home, and a little further away. Let me know what you find, and where you end up.

Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois

Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington

Ringling College of Art & Design, Sarasota, Florida

University of Cincinnati, DAAP, Cincinnati, Ohio

University of Michigan, Stamps School of Art & Design, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Cooper-Union

Cooper-Union

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