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Is it better to go to an art college, or an arts and sciences college?

I'm a freshmen in high school, and I'm currently trying to choose between a college specifically for art, or an arts and sciences college. If I wanted to major in illustration, which type of college should I go to? Is it better to go to an arts and sciences college because I will meet different types of people there, or is it better to go to an art college, because I will meet like-minded people there?

The college selection process at my high school hasn't begun yet, but I wanted to a get head-start preview of the possible choices and things I should be aware of.. are there any colleges in either area that I should aim to get into? #college #college-major #art #college-majors #college-selection

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Spartaco’s Answer

Hey Kelly, well, it's quite simple. Are you passionate about art? Does it drive you? Do you create art, drawings, paintings, sketches, in your free time? Just really think it over. I would recommend art school for sure. Like others have said above, gives you a good foundation of somewhere to start and exposure to vast amounts of art from various mediums. I started out from HS into college as an illustrator and found my way to Animation. The most important path to focus on is what you're into. In college, hard to find your way and figure out which career my be best for you. For me, I always knew, art was my passion and drive so I pursued different avenues and artistic projects. Schools, there are so many. I like Parsons, Pratt, School of Visual Arts in NYC, Cal Arts, Sheridan College to name a few. But again, it really depends on what you're going to go after and money of course. The path will be a struggle, no doubt. You need the basics and the principles foundations for whatever artistic path you will follow. Experience is key. Get as much as you can, start now. Volunteer, draw for your High school yearbook, play around with photography, learn software. With the internet, so many tutorials and ways to do anything really, for free. Don't worry about a large master plan, baby steps and start with a core path, what drives you? If you don't eat, drink, breath art, I don't recommend it as a career. Graphic design and other creative paths are available but anything creative will not be easy. Think about competition as well, what makes you stand out? I am not going to lay out my path to you, it's doesn't matter since we are different. I have been fortunate of working on great projects but I made the most out of every situation I was in. So, push yourself, be creative now! Research, read, read more.


Simple way to think of it, if you were born with a skill, let's say, to play the music, you would play music. The desire, the drive, the nature skill is inside you, just needs to be fine tuned. So, find that desire, that gift, that passion and fine tune it. Good luck, push it and carpe diem. .... 'Seize the day'

Thank you comment icon Hello Mr./ Mrs. Margioni! Your answer really just made my day.. thank you. I've heard of those schools quite a lot, but I already have my heart set on one particular school. Thank you again, really. I will make sure to follow your advice and think about the many things you said. Hope you have a great day! Kelly
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Ellen’s Answer

Hi Kelly:


Well, I think you should investigate more than just 2 schools. Yale University has a fabulous art department, at least it has a wonderful reputation, but, as I'm sure you know, getting into Yale is very very competitive. If you want to go to Yale, be prepared to work hard in high school in terms of your grades and your art portfolio. I am not familiar with the other college you mentioned. You seem to have already investigated both schools already, which is good. But, widen your net; you've got time to investigate other schools; talk to your guidance counselor, your art teacher, and any recent graduates of your school, and look into the schools they recommend. I don't have specific schools to recommend, sorry. Also, please keep in mind that over the course of the next 3.5 years, your interests may change, so keep an open eye and an open mind. Best wishes!

Thank you comment icon Hi Mr./Mrs. Rosenthal, I will continue to investigate different schools, and follow the other advice you have given me. Thank you so very much for the great insight; I hope you have a great day! Kelly
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Ellen’s Answer

Good for you taking this long range thinking on your future! You've got time between now and high school graduation to think about this and to do some research, like what you are doing now--- going on Career Village and getting opinions. I strongly suggest you follow through with the advice of the previous volunteer, Ken Simmons, and check out those websites, talk to school counselors, art teachers and so on. Your question is an excellent one to ask of people already in an art field of your choice---what was their education, and what would they suggest---so keep asking it.


As a retired teacher, my take on the Liberal Arts vs. Art School is this. A Liberal Arts college or university (what I think you are calling "Arts and Sciences" school) will give you a well-rounded education, which will make you more of a well-rounded artist. You'll meet other students studying other fields and that will broaden your knowledge of the world. You'll also have the opportunity to take classes in other fields that might be of interest to you, and that will broaden your ideas. Please remember, being an artist in any area is not just about skills, but also having original and creative ideas.


In a Liberal Arts College, you also might discover you have other interests or passions that you would like to combine with your art, or take the place of your interest in art. Also remember a career in any art field takes commitment and passion, so you want to make sure a career in art is right for you.


I attended a Liberal Arts school where I took some studio art classes, but I actually majored in Art History and had a minor in Humanities. I would not trade that experience for anything. After college I attended an art school for 2 years (then dropped out), and while I appreciated the opportunity to focus only on studio art and on improving my art skills, I was glad to have had the experience of a Liberal Arts college before art school. That was my experience; other people you talk to might have a different take. Eventually, I went to a university to get a masters in art education, and I became an art teacher.


So check out Liberal Arts colleges with strong art departments, and also look at art schools; some do allow you (or even require you) to take Liberal Arts type courses. Try to narrow down what type of art field you are looking at--Fine Art painting, sculpture, printmaking, graphic design, fashion design, interior design, computer graphics, and so on. In all of these areas, once again, creative and original ideas are needed, not just art skills.

Thank you comment icon Hi Mr./ Mrs. Rosenthal, Thank you for your take on my question! I actually asked this question because I'm on the borderline between Yale University and the College for Creative Studies. While Yale seems to have a decent fine arts program, they don't have the type of people I want to meet. CCS (College for Creative Studies) on the other hand seems to have very artistic and creative thinking people, but I'm too far away from their campus to visit. Are there any other colleges that have good Illustration programs that you might suggest looking at? I will keep your perspective in mind (along with all the other great input I've been getting) as I solidify my college selections! Kelly
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Andy’s Answer

Hi Kelly,


The decision of which college to apply to/attend is a very complex and difficult question to answer. Primarily it will come down to you and what your priorities are.


I can give you my perspective and I hope that will help to inform you on your decision. I went to UC Berkeley for my undergraduate degree where I majored in Integrative Biology. Personally, I feel that I got a more well-rounded education and life experience by getting to know a wide range of people and take many different classes. While I did take a couple of art classes at Berkeley, it was neither my major or minor. It did expose me to more formalized art instruction and so after graduation, I pursued my Master of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA.


I feel like I got the best of both worlds. Experiencing the breadth of people and classes at UC Berkeley really helped me to become a more open-minded and conscientious individual. Perhaps I would be a better artist if I had focused on my craft early on but I am in a good place now.


From my perspective, I feel that if you're passionate about your art, it's certainly something that you can continue to pursue while experiencing the breadth of college life. It will give you more life experience from which to draw upon.


That being said, diving fully into your art and passion might get you to where you want to be faster. And you'll build mutual learning relationships with other artists at an art school. I know great people and great artists who went straight into art school. So there's no one right answer.


Sorry if this isn't very helpful. But I hope that it was informative. Please feel free to ask additional questions in the comments and I'll attempt to answer as best I can.


Good luck with your decision. Whichever path you choose will give you different opportunities. Be open to exploring many subjects and remember, learning doesn't end after graduation.

Thank you comment icon Hello Mr./ Mrs. Wang, Your answer has actually helped me think over things a bit, so, thank you for answering! I'll be sure to keep your perspective in mind as I make college selections. Kelly
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Ken’s Answer

Hi Kelly!


You are beginning a very interesting research project.


One thing to keep in mind about going to an "arts and sciences" school vs an art school: If you decide to change majors along the way, it is much easier if you are not going to an art school.


Let me know if and how this might be helpful. Keep me posted. I would like to follow your progress.

Thank you comment icon Hello Mr./ Mrs. Simmons, Thank you for your informative answer! I've actually taken several personality tests before, and have determined that visual art (and story telling in general) is my primary field of interest. However, I took some of the ones you recommended, and they essentially told me the same thing; I'm a goal-focused INFP. I followed several of the suggestions you provided, and I am looking to follow the others when I have the chance. Thank you again for your time you took, and the information you provided! Kelly
Thank you comment icon You are welcome! Pay very close attention to your feelings. I know a girl majoring in illustration at a very expensive art school who is feeling like she is being turned into a machine producing the wants and desires of others. She is considering transferring to an "arts and sciences" school, but will face loss of credits as she is not sure how many of her credits will transfer resulting in loss of time and money. You will be known for the quality of your work in your career and in your years of education and not by the schools which you attended. This video will be very helpful: ## http://www.ted.com/talks/julie_lythcott_haims_how_to_raise_successful_kids_without_over_parenting?utm_campaign=social&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_content=talk&utm_term=education ## Ken Simmons
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice and the video; I will pay close attention to my feelings as I proceed! I do have a few questions about the girl majoring in Illustration, if you (and her of course) don't mind me asking them. Is she able to connect with the people around her? Is the school environment very competitive, motivated, or just laid back? Does she have any personal projects of her own that she can use to counter-balance her current feelings? If she or you feel as if my questions are an invasion of her personal privacy, I apologize for that, and ask you to keep in mind that you don't have to respond to my questions. Kelly
Thank you comment icon I wish you the best of luck It sounds like you are starting on a very interesting journey. Good advice is only helpful if it is not ignored. Please keep me informed. I would like to follow your progress. Ken Simmons
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