Alternative Paths after High School
Most people continuing their education after high school attend a four-year university or a two-year community college. However, a smaller number of people find themselves drawn to art, fashion, or theatre and decide to go to an art college. To get a better perspective on how to be accepted into an art college, we interviewed Laura Dooley, who attended Parsons School of Design in New York.
Why Art College?
Laura decided that she wanted to attend an art college during her junior year of high school because she was very interested in pursuing a career in either animation or fashion. Other four-year universities offered animation and fashion programs, but she found the art schools to have more well-rounded curriculums for art majors, and the art colleges also had fewer core classes, such as English and science that would be largely useless in her future career.
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Every art school has a slightly different admissions process. Some require SAT or ACT scores and a number of extra curricular activities, as well as a high GPA. Other colleges don’t require any standardized test scores at all, nor do they have a GPA requirement. However, having a high GPA, even when it is not required, can only help your chances of being admitted into an art college.
Regardless of whether any test scores or extra curricular activities are required for admittance, nearly every art college requires a portfolio, or collection of the applicant’s best work. The size of portfolio varies with each school, usually between 12 to 24 pieces. When examining a portfolio, admission officers are usually looking for exceptional talent in one or two areas, not just “skill” in a large number of areas.
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When Laura first told her parents that she wanted to go to an art school instead of a traditional four-year university, they were a bit unsure if they liked the idea. Yet, after Laura explained to them why she wanted to go to an art school, and let them know what she wanted to major in, they warmed up to the idea. Since she was interested in pursuing a career in animation, her parents knew that she would ultimately be successful in her life if she went to a good art college. They did, however, have Laura apply to several four-year universities, in case she changed her mind, or wasn’t accepted into any of her top-choice art colleges.
Her friends welcomed the idea with open arms and provided Laura with unyielding support. Other people, such as classmates, were unsure of the idea at first, and some looked down on her for “only” going to an art school, but once Laura talked to them about her major, and how rigorous the admission process for some art schools are, most people changed their opinions quickly, and wished Laura well.
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What is Art School Like?
There are several ways in which the art school lifestyle differs from that of a traditional college. One big difference is that very few art schools have a campus. Usually classes are scattered about through a city, and dorms are really just apartments. Also, the homework assigned at an art college is often even more time consuming than that of a traditional college, but is most often enjoyable to the student, because the homework assigned is usually an art project, and most students enjoy doing art of any sort, since art is their passion. At most art colleges, there are still liberal arts requirements, such as English, and on occasion, math, but the core requirements are usually less than that of a traditional college.
Overall, Laura loves going to an art college. She finds the other students to be focused, passionate and extremely interested in their major. She finds art college to be challenging, but overall enjoyable, and feels as though she is in an incredibly positive environment.
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By Rosie De Chant,
High school writer