Northeastern University: Create Your Own Path

CAMD students

CAMD students

Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media & Design (CAMD) takes creative education to a new level. There are more great things to say about this program than can easily fit into one blog. Seriously. I’ve been researching the program for a family and just had to share my findings with you.

Beginning with the basics, Northeastern (NU) has almost 18,000 undergraduates, with 2,000 of them enrolled in CAMD. What’s unique here is the combination of available educational options. They lead to a plethora of opportunities, especially benefitting those who want to create their own path. Within the college students can graduate with a single major, two double majors, or combine two half majors. Huh? Yep! Undergraduates can explore and intertwine two passions – two half majors – and accumulate more credits than with one major, but fewer than doubling up.

The university is focused on experiential learning; getting up, out of your seat, and becoming involved. Students across all departments are required to engage in at least one form of experiential education:

  • Barcelona architecture

    Barcelona architecture

    Cooperative education (co-op) typically takes one semester. Students can co-op three times, providing up to 18 months of real-world education. Aspiring artists and designers gain professional hands-on experience. They engage with industry leaders, explore careers, and begin building their career paths.

  • Service learning creates opportunities for students to apply their creative skill set to the greater community, and vice versa. They become active participants, utilizing their newly gained artistic capabilities while furthering social justice.
  • CAMD students also have the opportunity to create individual research projects. Here they can take a deep dive into a singular focus with a faculty member, a group of peers, or on their own.
  • Study abroad offers a whole host of opportunities. Beyond spending a semester studying the Medici’s artistic influence in Florence or fashion in France, students can take a co-op, service learning, or research project abroad. Sign me up!!

Designers also have Scout, an on-campus student-led design studio giving them access to real clients as they solve real design problems.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University

Design, Game Design, and Media Arts majors earn BFAs. Studio Art majors graduate with a BFA through a partnership with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA). (A program note: beginning this fall SMFA will become part of Tufts University. I don’t yet know how this will affect the Studio Arts major at NU.) Other CAMD majors graduate with a BA. Portfolios are required for the BFA in Studio Art and are optional for other majors.

CAMD prides itself on educating and molding its students into engaged and vibrant makers, and ensuring that each one has a perspective of place in the global environment. I hope you go check it out.

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Waiting Out The Waitlist

It’s April. That means the deadline has come and gone. All results are in. Yeah! Or, perhaps not.

There are only three answers to the college admission question. Two are definitive. One leaves you and your teen hanging. The “yes’s” are invigorating. (They like me; they really like me!) The “no’s” can be crushing. The dreaded waitlist just sits there like a lump in your stomach.

AIGA design archives

AIGA design archives

The Facts
The reality is, more students apply to any individual college than can ever be accepted. Simultaneously, every institution has its own unique goals and priorities. The demographics, artistic ability, majors, GPA, etc. of each incoming freshmen class needs to meet those goals. Taryn Wolf, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at MICA, shared that MICA was on the Common App for the first time this year. Consequently, their application numbers were way up. That’s good for the college and the class as a whole; it just makes the waiting game tougher.

Sadly, choices of who is accepted may sometimes come down to the fact that a college is looking for more illustrators than industrial design majors this year. It’s not personal, although that rarely makes anyone feel any better.

Managing The Wait
So, how do you and your teen master the dreadful waitlist experience with the least amount of stress? It’s a three-step process, with the last one requiring time, dedication, and patience.

stamps logoStart by accepting an offer of admission. Congratulations! You’ve got a kid in college! Make sure to get your deposit in by May 1st, National College Enrollment Deposit Day. Second, I’d encourage your teen to communicate with those schools he won’t be attending. A polite thank you, but no thank you is greatly appreciated (and it may help someone else gain acceptance from that waitlist!)

Then it’s time to get proactive. Staying on a waitlist begins with a response. Karina Moore is the Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design (Stamps). She put it clearly, “students must take action and accept the offer in order to be placed on the waitlist.” Then, your teen needs to get busy demonstrating how and why he should be accepted for enrollment.

Knowledge is power. Once he’s on the list get your teen to contact his admissions representative and inquire why he was waitlisted. GPA too low? Dedicated interest not apparent? Listen to the reply and respond accordingly.

Keep Calm waitingColleges welcome and often encourage sending in updates. But please don’t bombard them! Updating a file with solid GPA improvements, a new achievement, a mentor’s recommendations, or new artwork is appropriate. Encourage your daughter to build a website of her new work and send the link. Even better: go visit the school. She should make an appointment with her rep while on campus. Hand delivering that additional work provides an opportunity for greater interaction and a personal pitch of the value she’ll bring to campus. Taryn was encouraging here as well; “the interest and enthusiasm that some students are showing will be meaningful,” when it comes to accepting students off the list.

The waitlist process is different for each college and sometimes each program. Stamps has its own procedure which means your teen isn’t on the same list as those seeking acceptance into other University of Michigan departments. Students waitlisted there are encouraged to email new accomplishments and creative work to stamps-admissions@umich.eduMICA-hopeful students should contact the college for a direct email address.

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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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