Sometimes the college search process can feel like you are lost in a giant maze.
How do you stay focused and know which path to take when you can’t get a birds eye view of all the possibilities? The word disconcerting comes to mind. Finding a good college match requires studying numerous options, answering countless questions, and making thoughtful choices.
Consider this: visual artists go through the same search and application process as other college applicants, yet yours requires more; more decisions to make and more colleges to choose from. Ugh! An early investment of your time and effort will save heartache and frustration later on.
The best way to get started with your search is to know what you’re looking for, research what’s offered, consider your options, and then prioritize. Here are four tips to get you started.
1. Know your motivation.
Do a self-assessment before your search begins. Is your passion to bring inanimate objects to life? Do the technical and aesthetic parts of moving images fascinate you? Is your dream to influence the multi-billion dollar world of fashion? Or do you want to travel the world, exploring and documenting it through photography? There is no wrong answer here, but the more you know about your passion the better chance you’ll have of finding a good fit.
2. Understand your options.
As an artist you can attend a university, a liberal arts college, or an arts college. This is about environment: small classrooms or the chance to collaborate across majors. Each places a different emphasis on the arts, and each will give you an excellent education. You’ll want to know the differences and determine which best fits your interests and career path.
3. Strengthen your weaknesses.
Yes, they are there, and they’re nothing to be afraid of. The best advice is to identify them and use every opportunity to turn them into strengths. Summer and after-school courses can help expand your artistic skill set as well as round out other areas like English, math or science.
4. Go exploring!
Start online, by reading a variety of college websites. Dive deep into the content of their curriculum. Talk with the college admissions representatives that visit your high school. Then go explore in person. Plan tours during spring break and summer. There is nothing like walking on campus to give you a real feel for the place.
Don’t wait too long to begin putting time and effort into your college search. The entire process will be less stressful if you begin thinking about it early. You’ll gain a better perspective of what you’re looking for, and the path will be much smoother.
Follow Elaine Pelz, author and college search consultant for the visual arts at Art.College.Life