What makes a great fine arts college?

Choosing a fine arts college, and picking from the best for your education.

Choosing a college can be a wonderful, exciting experience, but with that can come an incredible amount of time, research, and frustration. For a student of the arts, be it acting, writing, painting or any other, it is extremely important to identify what makes the fine arts college a good fit.

For starters, the college that is being viewed should have a specific course of study for the desired major and career. A college that only offers fundamentals of drawing as an elective course is obviously not a choice for a student that wishes to pursue oil painting as a career. A proper college will have intense study options in the branch of the arts the student is interested in.

The college should be well staffed with instructors that have experience, that have been able to have some level of success that they can pass on to the student. If a student is interested in acting, what are the credentials of the teachers? Are they diverse, offering multiple methods of study? Is the program focused on drama, musical theatre, dance, or a conglomeration? All of this must be taken into consideration. This is not to say that a dramatic actor cannot benefit from a dance class or a voice lesson; but will the student be able to pursue his or her true calling in the program?

Location and reputation can provide important clues as to a top notch school. NYU for example, is lauded for its arts programs in acting, film, and writing. It boasts an impressive alumni catalog, as well as notable professors and guest speakers. Located in the heart of New York City, it is a prime location for artistic impression. This might be extremely important to a student.

However, even if the college is not in one of the biggest cities in the world, it might still have a great reputation. Research into the programs can reveal the success stories that have come from it. Another vital aspect of research is seeing the college in person. Walking around the campus, meeting the professors or alumni, seeing the drawing facilities or the performance stages can have a huge impact on choice. All colleges have open house sessions for prospective or incoming students, and these should be taken full advantage of. The time spent will be well worth making the proper choice for the future.

Another important aspect that may come into play is readiness of appropriate materials. If the student wishes to pursue visual arts such as film, will there be appropriate camera and lighting equipment available? If the college in question has two hundred film students but only three pieces of film equipment readily available, the student must look hard at what he or she will be able to achieve without readiness of equipment. If the school dictates that students must provide their own equipment, this factor should be taken into account. For art students, it is expected for one to have his or her own equipment.

Finally, an important aspect to be considered is the interaction of the program with its members. Are internships actively available? Are workshops with industry professionals offered? What about study abroad programs? These are all important aspects of a great program, but also important to the student as he or she develops and grows towards graduation to pursue their lives and fortunes.

In conclusion, there are many factors to consider when choosing a fine arts college, ranging from name and reputation to available workspace to tuition costs. It is important for the student to weigh all of these factors against his or her ultimate goals and desires, and to ensure a proper fit for what the career and life goals will be.

Did you know:

According to US News and World Reports the following are the top 2010 National Schools offering Art majors

1.      Yale University – New Haven, CT
2.      University of Chicago – Chicago, IL
3.      Northwestern University – Evanston, IL
4.      Brown University – Providence, RI
5.      Rice University – Houston, TX


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