Careers in art are competitive, so choosing a degree in the arts is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. The right art school won’t just be another hoop on the obstacle course to becoming a legitimate artist, it will nurture your ability, refine your talent, and teach you the skills necessary to market your art in the real world.
So how do you choose the program that’s right for you? Here is a list of tips that should help make your decision easier.
1. Consider your career goals
Whether you want to be the next M. C. Escher, or your dream is to teach, whether you hope to curate your own gallery or restore centuries old masterworks, it’s essential to know in advance that the program’s you’re applying for will enable you to achieve your goals.
Not all art educations are created equal, and some programs are focused more on the business end of art than the creation of it. Ensuring that your program of choice is accredited is also of paramount importance, especially if you’ll be advancing your education further. Most PhD programs won’t look twice at an applicant from an unaccredited school.
2. Educate yourself about the school’s location
Some programs are located in urban settings, some are more rural, and the difference can make or break certain students. Know what kind of environment you want before you start looking for programs, it will help you narrow your choices, and save you from learning the hard way half-way through first semester.
An addendum to this is the kind of space the program provides for its artists. Will you have a private studio? A shared one? How will the space suit your needs and accommodate the work you are already producing? Is the program flexible, will they help you find more space if you need it? All important questions.
3. Understand the timeline
This is hard for artistic types, but it’s an important part of entering into an agreement with an educational institution. Find out how long the program is meant to last, and how much leniency you will be given to produce a finished product (often referred to as a thesis) after your time there is complete.
Also important: loans and loan repayment timelines. Most federal loans give students 6 months or 1 year after graduation before they start requiring payments, so knowing this will help you plan your career choices after graduation.
4. Research the faculty
Always do your homework when it comes to choosing the people who will teach and mentor you. These individuals can become lifelong peers and are crucial to successful networking. More important than their own fame or success, though, is their ability to teach. Not all artists love teaching students. Seek out other students and gain their insight. Visiting the school is an easy way to do this, and sitting in on a class can be the most insightful experience of all.