There are many things to consider when making this decision, and I am so glad that you took the time to ask. Given that I don't know what kind of artist you are referring to, it might be difficult to narrow my answer. That being said, being artistic is great, as not everyone is. So, let me try to cover a few things to help you in your search:
1) There are many avenues for artists and it will depend on your strengths. So first you have to ask yourself that question. What are my strengths?
2) You have to ask yourself - Can I make money doing exactly what I want to do? and
3) Can I incorporate my strengths into something that I can be happy with (and make money at) while I pursue what I love?
Pursuing a college career that will leave you thousands in debt, but doesn't allow you to utilize your degree to pay off that debt and also survive independently would be self defeating. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/17/how-student-loans-are-making-some-people-abandon-their-dreams.html
But don't give up hope on college yet. Here is a great article on college degrees that may inspire you: https://www.bestcollegesonline.org/highest-paying-jobs/arts-majors/
A couple avenues this article doesn't mention is Architecture and Engineering.
This is where your strengths will come in, which will help you in your decision as to what path you should follow. Ultimately the choice is yours, and you can do anything you put your mind to. The best decision is an informed decision.
A few things I would suggest:
1) Look at the forecasting demands of the career path(s) you are most interested in, and
2) College cost versus income ratio for your desired career path(s)
3) Get involved locally with other artists that share your passion and ask them if/how they were able make a living or what made them fail.
4) Check to see if your community or local library offers any STEAM or STEM programs. The libraries in my county offers these programs under STEAM for free; as a way to get students involved in testing out different programs of interest.
I hoped this helped you at least narrow your focus in lieu of a direct answer. That answer can only come from you. Do your homework. Knowledge is power.
Denise recommends the following next steps:
- What are my strengths as an artist?
- What career paths can I use my artist strengths in that will allow me to make a living?
- What sacrifices am I willing to make to accomplish my dreams?