helping my child get into art school

Thinking and Stressing About College for My Oldest

Now that my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, is starting high school this September we have started thinking more concretely about college for her. She wants to go to art school, with Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) being a top choice.

rhode island school of design

I did a little research to look into a private college counselor for her. My conclusion years ago on Private or Public School: Which Is Better? was that public school was right for us, but the addition of a private college counselor would ensure personalized attention when it came time to applying for college. But when I started talking to private college counselors, I quickly realized that:

  • Private college counselors might place kids at art schools but no one specializes in it.
  • $250/hour is roughly the going rate for a private college counselor. They also charge a flat fee ranging from $5000 to $7500 to work with your child over a number of years.
  • My daughter would need help with: finding the right classes to develop her art skills, developing her portfolio, and choosing a range of art schools to go to.
  • The most important element of her application is going to be her portfolio.

A private college counselor’s role is also that of therapist; keeping everyone calm during this stressful process. My daughter might not want advice from me (though I have spent a lot of time researching on her behalf) but the same counsel from her personal college advisor would be palatable and perhaps even taken seriously!

My plan evolved into one of recruitment. If no private college counselors exist for art schools, then create one. My first thought was blogger Jeanette Nyberg of Artchoo! and Tiny Rotten Peanuts. She attended RISD and hangs with an arty crowd. She’s funny and great with kids. My daughter would LOVE her. And most of all, I would be able to talk to HER during this process and get my thoughts filtered down to my daughter.

Jeanette Nyberg, Artchoo! blogger

Step 1: Secure Private College Counselor.


Step 2: Pay for College.

529 Investment plan …

When my oldest was born, I was fortunate to have a CPA working on my taxes who also had a child a little older than mine. She had done all the research and steered me to the 529 plan then which was just in a nascent state.

As the years passed, the 529 plan became more widely available with many more options and my husband and I use this as the primary vehicle to pay for college for our three kids. The way it works is that the money invested can grow tax-free.

It’s always a good idea to first research your state’s 529 plans since sometimes there are tax incentives for residents. The idea for the funds — you can also invest the money yourself — is for the plan to invest more aggressively for growth when your child is young and more conservatively for preservation as your child nears college. If your child ends up not needing the money (athletic scholarship?!), you can pass the funds to your next child without penalty.

Fidelity/MEFA UFund Dreams Tour 2014

This Friday on July 25th, I’ll be attending an event at the Children’s Museum in Easton which is a stop for the  U.Fund Dreams Tour.

The Children’s Museum Easton
9 Sullivan Avenue
North Easton, MA 02356

It’s from 9 am to 4 pm, so drop by any time! If you are in the area, I hope to see you there!


p.s. This is the Pinterest board I built for my daughter: Art for Kids. I collect art ideas for her here.

Follow PragmaticMom’s board Art with Kids on Pinterest.

helping my child get into art school

I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA for this post in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ann

    How exciting! I went to RISD too so if you need a second opinion on anything…
    Not sure if they still do this but many art school applications also have art assignments. I remember taking at least a couple days off from school to get some of these done. Your daughter should also look at MassArt and Cooper Union in NYC which is free but of course hard to get into.
    Ann recently posted…Scissor SchoolMy Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      Yes, I remembered that! And yes, I would love to have your help with the porfolio selection in a few years. I had a school friend that went to Cooper Union; thanks for that heads up. He was an amazing artist and went there to study to be an architect.

      I think my daughter is going to take classes at Mass College of Art this fall to sharpen her drawing skills.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Thinking and Stressing About College for My OldestMy Profile

  2. Ha! I love that I am officially your Private College Counselor. Time to change my business cards…. and I always marvel at how organized and planned and proactive you are. Let’s get G and S into RISD!
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…dogMy Profile

  3. I also want to go to RISD…to you think theres room for someone there in the 50 yr old crowd ? 🙂

  4. Wishing you all the very best about getting into the right college; I can quite understand how stressful it is in today’s world!
    Roshni recently posted…The older generation of India – and my kick-ass Indian grandmother!My Profile

  5. Jim Westcott

    Wonderful post! My niece, recently graduated from Purchase’s art program. Purchase is just outside of NYC. She loved it there-good school. Anyway, I can see why you’d pick Jeanette Nyberg to work with your daughter. She’s freakin hilarious:) and seems to really know her stuff. Her site is refreshing. You’re daughter is lucky to have you in her corner (seriously) Surely she knows this too, because most likely, similar to my teenage son, (will be a Sophomore in September) she knows everything there is to know about living as a 21st. Century human being on this planet Earth:):)

  6. Love how you plan ahead! Our kids have (very small) 529 accounts. I am curious to learn what my kids will grow up to become.
    maryanne recently posted…Kindergarten Readiness: Fine Motor SkillsMy Profile

  7. Mrs.AOK

    I honestly want to take a page… okay… maybe two or three out of your book! I love how you embrace your children’s education, and how you plan ahead. I want to make sure we are ready for college when it is time for our babies.
    At this point I’m thinking art school for my youngest daughter, if not something in agriculture.
    Best of luck!

  8. We’re doing the 529 plan too. Thanks for sharing this at the After School Linky. Great advice here (as usual)!
    Deceptively Educational recently posted…Cardboard Roll Shuttling RocketMy Profile

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