The time to apply to colleges is coming up and it’s pretty stressful, to say the least. But for those of you considering art school (whether in Pakistan or abroad), there’s an added pressure of weighing down the pros and cons to make an informed decision. But let’s get one thing out of the way: art school is not the same as a liberal arts school. Art school focuses on education in fields of art, whereas a liberal arts school focuses on a lot of different subjects. Most liberal arts colleges have an art department of their own, but if you’re determined to study art, going to an art school seems like the better option. Here’s a list of things to consider to help you make the best decision for yourself.
1. Do Your Research
Each school has a different curriculum, so do your research to see what fits you best. For example, a lot of art schools have an inter-disciplinary course that allows you to explore different mediums and different fields of creativity without feeling pressured to follow a one-path system. While this may be helpful to some; but for those of you who already know what field you want to dive into, an art school that focuses on that field, such as fashion, would be better.
2. Longer Classes
Since art schools tend to focus on studio work, most of your classes are bound to be long. On average, each studio class goes on for about 6 hours, which may sound like A LOT but it really isn’t. When you’re creating a piece of art, it requires a lot more time, energy and skill. But that’s also a perk; art schools have well equipped studios so that you can channel your inner creativity with all the resources available. However, not all your classes are bound to be 6 hours long; you’ll probably have a few liberal arts, humanities, sciences or art history classes that go on for 3 hours or less.
3. Critiques & Juries Instead Of Exams
If you’ve taken O or A-level art, you already know that critiques are crucial for examinations. There’s obviously no written test for art – unless you’re studying creative writing or art history – so you’ll have a few weeks to prep for an assignment and then showcase it while your entire class, along with the professor, give constructive feedback. As you get to a more advanced level, you’ll have a panel of professors judging your work. It may sound intimidating but it’s actually really helpful to have a lot of people from different fields give you feedback that’ll help you grow as an artist.
4. It’s Expensive
Art school is NOT cheap! Education is a big investment, regardless of what kind of school you go to, so you have to make sure you have enough funds before you apply. Art schools are even more expensive since they have studios and resources that a liberal arts college typically won’t. Luckily, most art schools offer merit scholarships, which is great because it only pushes you further to make your portfolio better than it already is in order to get a scholarship.
5. Not The Typical College Experience
If you’re looking colleges in the US, keep in mind that art schools in the US don’t really have Greek life (fraternities and sororities). If you’re someone who’s really looking forward to the community Greek life entails, you should consider a liberal arts college that has a good art department. But if your only fear is missing out on that college fun, don’t worry! Art schools have their fair share of parties and events that will keep your social life busy. Plus, in an art school you’re surrounded by artists in the making; there’s a certain drive and level of creativity there that is hard to find in an art department. They also have smaller sized classes, which makes it easier to be connected with your peers and professors.
6. More Hands-On
Even though art school does use books for inspiration and learning, you’re more likely to catch someone in a studio or woodshop even after class, working on their project. As soon as school begins, you’re expected to dive right into the different processes and techniques you learn along the way. The projects you make are meant to help you create a very highly skilled portfolio. As cliché as it may sound, practice really does make one better, if not perfect, and that’s the mantra most art schools follow.