Is art school right for you?

If you are focused on your art studies and want to shape your college degree around artistic pursuits, then an art college could be for you

Is art school right for you?

Do you love to draw, paint or take pictures? Would you like to have your art skills fine-tuned in an intensive environment with other students just as passionate as you? Art schools offer a focused education on the topic you love most.

Next Step Magazine: What kind of student does best at an art school?
Noel Dahl, former associate director of admissions at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Mo.:
The students who do best here are the students who are already focused on art and design skills. They’re taking art courses in high school, and they also may be…very passionate about a particular art subject, like photography or painting, and they may be doing it by themselves outside of school.

NSM:  What is the admissions process like? What do students need to provide in their applications?
A typical art college requires a portfolio. A portfolio can range from 15 to 20 pieces of art that a student has made within a year or two years, like paintings, drawings, photographs, etc. Portfolios are evaluated in person, with the student there. It functions as an interview process. Evaluations work on several levels: We consider artistic merits and the skill of the artist, and we look at design basics, like composition, technical ability, shape, form, color and balance.

NSM:  What is the average GPA needed for admission?
We want to see at least a 2.5. The higher, the better the scholarship offerings. However, the portfolio is the most critical thing. That decides the majority of the admissions,
but we do look at academics quite seriously. Grades count for 30 percent of the application.

NSM: What’s unique about art schools?
One of the unique things about art colleges is that they are highly focused. For example, art history is tailored to the students’ personal interests, rather than being a general lecture class.

NSM: What are some unique sample classes?
Electives are focused on a unique thing that professor wants to teach. For example, weaving on a computer loom. Many art schools have a foundation that makes it unique. For our drawing 101 course, we have a nine-block studio where students have time in the studio to become more interdisciplinary, including sculpture and computer drawing.

Other schools to consider:
• School of Photographic Arts and Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology (
• The Art Institutes (
• Kansas City Art Institute (
• The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (
• Cooper Union School of Art (


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