How to Choose an Art School

Choosing an art school, like any post-secondary institution, can be an exciting but daunting process. There are many factors to consider, including but not limited to location, cost, academic programming, and reputation. Below are some tips for finding an art school that works best for you.

1. Check out the faculty

One of the great things about art school is that many members of the faculty are established, practicing artists. When considering different schools, see who you will likely be studying under and do some research on your potential professors: do they have similar interests, do they have skills you would like to learn? Are they well connected in the art world? Figure out what is important in an instructor to you, and see what you can discover about your potential teachers. Keep in mind: a successful artist doesn’t always equate to a great teacher—it can also be helpful to look up teacher reviews on websites such as ratemyprofessors.com.

2. Check out the graduates

Seeking out and researching alumni of schools can be a good indication of the quality of the school. For example, if graduates are regularly recognized for art exhibitions, prizes, or awards, it is a good indication of a strong and relevant art school. But keep in mind your specific goals—are many of the graduates self-managed artists and entrepreneurs? If this is the direction you are working towards, the school reflecting this focus could by more relevant to you.

3. Check out the facilities

It’s a great idea to check out the facilities of different schools, in person if possible. You might have special requirements for your practice: a fully equipped photo lab, a particularly large studio space, a printing press, etc. Having an idea of what each school will offer you can help in making your ultimate selection.

4. Check out their financial aid programs

Almost all schools offer some form of financial aid program. Look particularly for entrance scholarships or assistance, ongoing funding (that is, funding available to students in all years of study), and awards relating to your specific area of interest. If financial aid is a large part of your decision, it can be helpful to know in advance what could be available to you.

5. Consider other options

If you’re having trouble settling or committing to one program, don’t disregard part-time or evening classes as an excellent avenue for art education. Many people enroll in art school with no clear goals–which is just fine. But stay open to other options too. Many art schools offer “continuing studies” or evening classes. If you’re not 100% sold on the four year commitment, taking one class at a time is a great (and less expensive) way to test the waters of art education.

What are your experiences in seeking out an art school? What did you find most helpful in your preparation and research?

Image credit: Christopher Bruno

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4 comments

  1. Great tips for future art students, including myself. I never went to art school, thought about it though. It’s never to late!

  2. I hope to join an art school when it’s time for me to go to university, but I always found it so daunting to actually choose which one to go to! Thank you for the helpful tips! :)

  3. Natasha

    Is it possible to exhibit one’s work if one is a self-trained artist? Would I be taken seriously?–granted gallery space?

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