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Is it possible to be accepted into competitive art schools without art extracirriculars?

Not that I necessarily want to go to an art school, but I would like to look at all possible options. I have always loved art and am self taught--where though I never had lessons or took classes, I was able to be accepted to a competitive high school to study art.

However, I chose to go to a high school more for academic merit and when I went into high school, I wanted to try new activities. Little did I know, I eventually grew to love those activities and to focus on them and so I don't plan on joining any art related extracirriculars.

How would that affect me if I were to try for art schools (hypothetically)? #college #art #design

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Ellen’s Answer

Sounds like you have some natural art talent, which is great, but art schools usually want to see more than raw talent, they really want to see a commitment and dedication to making art and evidence of your art skills, your ideas and your art experiences. This is where taking art classes in high school, or in an after school program, and building up a portfolio of artwork is important. I would talk to an art teacher at your high school about art schools, portfolios and so on. You might also investigate some art schools and look at their portfolio requirements for admission. While you possibly might gain admission based on your own work outside of art classes, you might also want to examine if you really want to pursue a career as an artist or designer.

I say this because I get the feeling from your statement that you are wavering on your commitment to a career in art, which is fine, there are a lot of different areas to explore, especially when you are in high school. You need to choose a field that you really like and want to commit to, rather than a field you happen to be good at and might find easy. Being successful in the art field, whether you are a fine artist, a designer, an art educator, or whatever, really requires a passion for art, along with art skills and talent. So, you might also want to talk to a Guidance Counselor at your high school; he or she is qualified to help you examine your interests and look for a direction that will be satisfying and one where you will be successful.

Remember, choosing to pursue another field does not mean you can't take art classes and make artwork. Instead of a competitive art school, you might look for a university or college, and major in your field of interest, and take art classes as a minor.

Best Wishes!

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Steven’s Answer

Hi Josephine-

Most art schools require some sort of portfolio and written materials, and your high school transcripts. You seem to have other interests besides just making art, which is great, since it helps develop more depth and potential subject matter to include. As long as you have work to submit and you can write a compelling statement or essay about your passion for one or more forms of art, your influences and your style choices, you should be good to go.

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Kim’s Answer


I think you probably already know the answer to this question. Replace the word "art" with "medicine" in your question, and you will see what I mean. There is a big difference between a hobby and a career. When you study something as a career choice, you will study theory and history, and not just perform it.

Because schools are competitive, they will want to see that you have made an "investment" in the study of that particular field, not that you simply one day decided to study it. When I read your question, I see a person who wants to go to art school, but does not want to take the time to prepare for it. Nothing worth having in life comes easy. Ask yourself the "real" reason why you are not studying art right now. Is it possibly because you don't think a person can earn a living as an artist, so you want a more traditional career path to play it safe? Or perhaps a fear of others critiquing your work?

If you possibly will go to art school, I recommend you find the time to start formally preparing right now. Even if you decide not to go, you will still benefit from the preparation!

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Pam’s Answer

Probably not. The more competitive the school is, the more likely they will want to see a portfolio of your work.