If you are an artist, chances are you have considered attending an art college for your post-secondary education. And, like a lot of students, you are faced with some tough decisions as to how you want to pursue your artistic and educational goals. Perhaps you have seen a lot of presentations extolling the virtues of a mainstream education and never really gave art schools much thought. Below are some reasons that you might want to consider an art school for your educational needs.

1. Highly competitive admissions.

Art schools usually require students to submit a portfolio for acceptance to their program. This ensures that they have a talented pool of applicants to draw from. Regular university programs can also be competitive but they tend to be more open to allowing students from the general population to attend classes, and some students might find that distracting.

2. Smaller class sizes.

Due to the competitive admissions processes, art colleges tend to accept fewer students per year. Smaller class sizes mean more individualized attention from your professors, and greater access to tools and supplies.

3. All Art all the time – well, mostly.

Mainstream colleges require you to study a broad range of subjects, but fashion design schools, for example, focus mainly on fashion design. You probably will need to take some English and basic math classes to get your degree, but you won’t end up pulling all-nighters on subjects that have nothing to do with your major. This is because art schools have to answer to a different accrediting body than four-year schools, and their requirements for graduation are geared more toward their specialty. Be aware, however, that if you attend an art school affiliated with a four-year university, like Yale’s Art School, you will need to meet the same gen-ed standards as students at the parent school.

4. A shorter program.

Because you focus most of your energy on art and can avoid other distractions, art school usually takes two to three years to complete vs four or more at a regular college. So while art schools could cost more per year to attend, you attend for a shorter amount of time.

5. Prestige within the industry.

Art colleges work hard to maintain a good reputation within their respective industry, and to cultivate industry ties that can provide students with contacts and referrals after graduation. A large university might spend more time focusing on the sports department, or on the academic programs that generate the most revenue, leaving art students to twist in the wind.

6. The art college atmosphere.

Art colleges tend to attract a certain type of person. If you go to a larger school, the social scene will most likely be geared more toward the mainstream.  So if the idea of sporting events, fraternities, and pop music make you twitch, the alternative art-school vibe might be for you.

The truth is that every school environment has something positive to offer, and art students can do wall in all sorts of places. But if you prefer to surround yourself with like-minded people in an atmosphere that is dedicated 100% to your craft, then art school could be the place for you.

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