After making the decision to follow your dreams and go to art school, a flood of questions arise. In addition to the usual concerns that come with starting college, there are further matters unique to choosing an art school. Some examples include figuring out your options for the type of school to attend, the medium to concentrate in, and ways to afford the cost of art supplies.
Choosing your concentration could be the simplest or the most difficult part of choosing an art school. There are two main sets of people: those who have a specific medium they love, and those who work in multiple media. If you love a single medium, your choice of art school can be made based on where you can get the best education in that medium. For example, I chose my school based on the fact that I have always loved fiber art, and the school has a great fibers program. Be willing to change majors, however, if another medium strikes your fancy once you get to art school. Art school is all about experimentation and learning. Another set of people know that they want to go to art school, but love many media and have trouble choosing a concentration. In this case, choose a program that is well rounded and allows for experimentation before a decision must be made. Most art schools are very encouraging of this and ultimately want your concentration to be in whatever gives you the best work.
The type of art school you choose has a huge impact on the type of artist you will become. In addition to normal universities, colleges, and junior colleges there are specialized art schools and many study abroad programs. Art schools can vary from one, two, or four year programs. A two year junior college art program will generally yield an AFA or Associate in Fine Art degree. The BFA, or Bachelors of Fine Art, is the result of graduation in most four year programs. There are also many study abroad programs, both as part of a larger curriculum and as an education on its own. Your choice of fine art school will impact you as an artist more than with most other areas of study. Be sure to look at as much student artwork as possible before choosing a school to ensure that you like the general aesthetic. Interviews are another way to see if you will be a good fit at a given school as your professors will also have profound effect.
In choosing an art school, be aware that the cost of supplies will be high. For many students, art supplies can cost as much as $200 per month. This, of course, depends on your major and school, but during your interviews with different art schools ask how much you can expect to spend on supplies per semester per class, and which classes are the most expensive. A watercolor studio class may not cost very much in supplies per semester where a jewelry making or sculpture class could cost hundreds. Another concern unique to art school is the increased course fees. Some classes, such as printmaking studio, can cost almost twice as much as a lecture course because the use of supplies and machinery in class is high.
Many people with an AFA or BFA will agree that their time in school was some of the most creative and beneficial time spent in their grown as an artist, but that it is difficult to choose an art school. In particular, artists must consider what their concentration will be, what type of program to go into, and the increased cost of supplies. The usual concerns related to choosing a college do apply, but these areas are also of great importance to those choosing to major in fine art. Spend plenty of time choosing your art school, because it will be your new home for the next few years!