How Can A Dorm Influence Fit?

SVA dorm room

SVA dorm room

I often write and talk about fit; encouraging families to find colleges that have the right blend of academics, environment, and community to meet their needs. Cost, distance from home, and comfort need to be included as well. The key is to weigh all of these – mostly tangible – elements until you come up with the place that just feels right. That’s logic transitioning into a gut instinct.

Just as fit is important to you, it’s also important to college administrators and professors. They want students who fit what they’re teaching, in the way they’re teaching it. They want contented, energetic and engaged students to walk their hallways.

So how do you find your fit and how do colleges find theirs? As I stated, numerous factors combine to create the best fit. We’ve discussed many of them at Art.College.Life., and will continue to do so. But today I’m gravitating towards comfort and what creates that “feels like home” sensation. Blame it on “back-to-school” season, and the catalogs from Target, The Container Store, and Bed, Bath & Beyond that have stuffed my mailbox…

SAIC dormitory studio space

SAIC dormitory studio space

Comfort comes in many forms. One way to experience it on campus is in dorm living. You may scoff at the idea that a college dormitory can influence college choice, but the reality is we’re all comfort-seeking creatures. Institutions work hard to create environments so students can envision themselves on campus. If the design, proximity, or offerings of a residence hall can help, that college is one step closer to creating a good fit. Naturally, spruced-up dorms are coveted. Most that exist still have cinder block walls, bunk beds, and showers down the hall, but that doesn’t mean they’re unhappy places. Plenty of great friendships continue to be built and great careers continue to be launched in new and old dorms alike.

I wrote about Cleveland Institute of Art’s new freshmen-only dormitory last month. Also new this year is Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design’s (MIAD) apartment-style residence hall, directly across the street from the college’s main academic building. This multi-use facility houses 75 fully furnished, two-bedroom suites and has 5,780 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The new apartments offer the latest in amenities; a wide-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchen and living room, and a bathroom attached to each bedroom. Best of all, students will be able to display their work inside and outside the building.

For art students, design and display space inside their dorm is a coveted feature. So is close proximity to on-campus studio space, especially in environments with inclement winter weather. It’s not like when I attended college, lugging portfolios across campus, then on the bus, in the rain; but that’s another story for another day.

From personal experience I can say that creature comforts can be found in any style dorm or living environment. Of course, it’s the people and friendships that make it memorable. But it doesn’t hurt to have accessibility and the latest offerings either. Whether your student is moving into a new residence hall or an old and well-loved dormitory, make sure you take the time to see what each campus offers. Even those that have been well-loved can check the box to ensure a good fit.

“Like” us and find related articles on Facebook; and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Cleveland Institute of Art: Small and Mighty

If you’re a basketball fan or looking forward to the next Republican National Convention, you already know that Cleveland has been headlining the news lately. For those unaware, LeBron James and the Republicans have each chosen the city to play an important role in their futures. Art students should consider it as well. I toured the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) early this spring, and can tell you that even on a rainy day the sparkle of this small art college was obvious. The institution is perfectly located among some of the city’s greatest cultural icons and uses them to its advantage. Neighbors like the Cleveland Art Museum, Severance Hall, and the Museum of Contemporary Art act as natural extensions of the CIA campus, offering its 570 undergraduates a lot more than what first meets the eye.

CIA student work

CIA student work

The college’s tag line is “Creativity Matters.” Clearly they take this principle seriously, for it’s at the core of the integrated opportunities available here. Students begin with a typical foundations year. During spring semester they prepare a portfolio and apply to a major. Then the fun really begins! Offerings include a full spectrum of fine art and design majors, each with its own creative possibilities. Consider Industrial Design (ID): CIA ID students have the opportunity to explore real world opportunities with Engineering and Computer Science majors of neighboring Case Western Reserve University (Case). Through Case’s think[box], students from diverse backgrounds come together to design, develop, and potentially commercialize their ideas. This is cross fertilization and creativity at its finest! Not interested in ID, but want to reach beyond your art courses? No problem; all CIA students can take Case classes – up to two per year at no additional cost.

Another blended opportunity is Biomedical Art (Biomed). One of only two undergraduate programs in the country, CIA’s Biomed major combines illustration and digital media with biology, anatomy, and histology. As preparation for future careers in botanical or medical fields Biomed students get up close and personal at the nearby Museum of Natural History and Cleveland Botanical Garden, and observe procedures at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Biomedical Art senior project: Melissa Logies

Biomedical Art senior project: Melissa Logies

Classes and studio space are pretty equally divided between the Gund and McCullough buildings, about a 10-minute walk from each other. Come fall of 2015 that will change, as a “new Gund” is currently under construction next door to McCullough. Students will benefit from new, roomier studio space and easier access to classes.

Another capital improvement is the Uptown Residence Hall, opening this fall. It’s a freshmen only dorm, of two-bedroom, two-bath suites. The good news: each suite is equipped with full drawing tables. The bad news: having your own bathroom means you get to clean it yourself. Upperclassmen have the benefit of their own studios on campus, so their living quarters don’t have a separate drawing area. The college’s dining plan is hosted at Case, and offers options to include purchases at restaurants and grocery stores in the University Circle neighborhood.

CIA is situated in a thriving, energetic neighborhood, and offers a creative environment for students to study and explore. I’d suggest heading to northern Ohio to explore it for yourself.

“Like” us and find related articles on Facebook; and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.