Please welcome my guest blogger, Sophie, who is sharing her art and design college search journey today!
My name is Sophie. I have a bachelor’s in Allround Styling and Design which I obtained at Academie Artemis, located in the heart of the beautiful city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. From there, I went on to create Atelier Nouveau, aimed at supporting teens in their dream of applying to Art & Design college. From very early on I knew that my future was in the Art & Design world and I was sure that this path would make me the happiest and most successful. But I would not have been able to get there without my parents. They played a big part in guiding me through this process which led to the day I received my letter of acceptance.
I am writing this blog to share my journey and what my parents did to help me make sure that this was the right choice and how they helped me get accepted. If you are a parent whose kid wants to go to an Art & Design school and you’re not sure how to best support them, read along and I hope to inspire you!
*Sidenote: tips I share in this blog should be taken as such, tips. Make sure your kid carries out their own research and as a parent, you help them by guiding them through the process.
Types of colleges
There are almost infinite choices when it comes to the possibilities of Art & Design schools. Every college is different with its own unique approach. Therefore, it is key that you research which type of college fits your kid’s needs and wishes best. If you take this into consideration, and the types of college will challenge them to the fullest, there really is no wrong choice.
There are three important differences that I advise you to investigate together with your kid:
Firstly, some colleges focus on authenticity and developing your creative spirit through a more conceptual approach. Others focus more on the commercial side like preparing you for the working world and improving specific techniques like drawing or painting.
Secondly, another important aspect to investigate is to find out if your kid is more comfortable with art, design, or a combination of the two. Where an artist creates from an inner passion that he or she wants to share with the world or express for themselves, is a designer more focussed on solving a need or a problem for someone else. If your kid doesn’t know yet which of the two is the best fit, look into colleges that offer both art and design courses in the same program.
Lastly, there are colleges where your kid can start off with a wide program and discover different fields (for example painting, drawing, sculpting, and art history), and they can, later on, choose which direction fits them most. In other colleges, they start specifically in the subject of their choosing and thus have more of a focus from the beginning.
When you’ve made a list of colleges that seem to qualify in terms of field of interest, college system, location, and tuition fee, it’s time to get in touch.
To verify that your list actually is a good fit, motivate your kid to give them a call. Now, when I was in high school this was not something I was very fond of. Calling a stranger was extremely intimidating to me, so I usually avoided doing this at all. My mother helped me overcome this fear by taking me step-by-step through this process. At first, she made me sit with her when she made similar calls (for instance, to the general practitioner). She’d put it on speaker so I could hear how the conversation went. In the next step, we prepared the conversation together and wrote down what I wanted to say. During the call, she stayed by my side to help if necessary. Eventually, I became more confident in picking up the phone and calling someone when I needed information. If your kid finds having a conversation on the phone with a stranger intimidating, help them make basic calls that have a clear goal. So let them call a restaurant to make a reservation, or a store to ask about their opening hours. In the end, you want your kid to feel confident to call the colleges and ask about their programs, receive more information regarding certain programs and ideally sign up for an Open House.
Speaking of Open Houses, in my opinion, this is the best way to get a good view of the college. How a college appears on its website can be very different from how it is in real life. So visit multiple Open Houses with your kid where they can talk to current students and teachers and experience the projects that are on display.
Questions they can ask current students:
- Was it difficult to get in?
- How did you prepare your portfolio?
- What did your application look like?
- Was there an interview and what was that like?
- What do you like about studying here?
- What could be better?
- What kind of lessons do you have?
- What does your homework look like?
- What does a college day look like?
- Do you get proper guidance?
- Do you have time for a side job?
- What do you want to do after college?
When speaking to a teacher, ask about their acceptance rate. If it’s low, don’t be discouraged, but be realistic and make sure your kid has other great options. Steer them towards a really good second and third choice to increase their chances of a successful acceptance.
As a parent, you’re probably thinking about what chances your kid has in the job market after finishing college. To give yourself more comfortable with your kid’s college choice, look into the job rate after graduation. In my opinion, it is a big misconception that the job opportunities are very low. In this world of rapidly growing technical developments, demand for creative people will only grow. Especially since creative thinking skills cannot be automated.
Having said that, some colleges have a higher job rate than others. That’s why I would advise trying to figure out how the college(s) is known in the market.
Every college has different requirements when it comes to its application procedures. It is key to find out what these requirements are for the colleges your kid wants to apply to. I advise you to focus on the following:
On which date will the application be open and when is the deadline?
Is an essay, a motivation letter, or a personal statement required?
Is a recommendation letter required?
Is there an interview?
Is a portfolio required?
If yes, how many pieces?
If yes, does it have to be submitted digitally or in person?
There are a lot of unknowns surrounding the Art & Design school portfolio. So, what is a portfolio? A well-composed portfolio reflects the applicant’s character, talent, and desire to learn. You highlight the best projects by showing the end result and, in some cases, show the process. How did this project come to be? What or who inspired you? What did your process look like? A very important aspect of your portfolio is being able to talk about it, answer questions and carry a conversation. It is a way for the admission officers to get to know the applicant and decide if they fit the program they applied to.
Do you need help with your kid’s application process and creating their portfolio? Watch my free webinar where I share 3 secrets on what to expect when applying to Art & Design school. Sign up here!
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