Preparing for College: PVA Tips for Visual and Performing Arts Students (page 2)

By — National Association for College Admission Counseling
Updated on Mar 13, 2009


The location of your chosen college may be more important to arts students than to students in other majors.

"There may be many factors to consider when choosing where to study," notes the workshop authors. "For art students, these should involve access to professional venues such as museums, galleries, theaters, and concerts. Also, do these venues attract regional, national, or international talent to inspire and educate the students? Additionally, the opportunity to perform, exhibit, and have active internships is vital to a young artist's education."


In addition to checking out dorm rooms, classrooms, and athletic facilities, art students should look at a college's studio space or practice rooms, performance or exhibit venues on campus, darkroom facilities (for photographers), computer resources, and any other resources specific to your field of study. And ask questions about how accessible these resources are to students: attractive studios are of no help if there aren't enough to go around.

Reputation and philosophy

Talk to your art, music, drama, or dance teachers about the reputation of the colleges you're considering. Ask the colleges about career opportunities for graduates and about what their alumni are doing. The goal here is to get some idea of how the program is perceived by professionals in your career field and what career opportunities you might have when you complete college.

Also, ask each college about their philosophy. Different fine arts or music programs can have very different emphases. For example, one music program may emphasize classical music, while another specializes in more modern forms, like jazz. Similarly, the intensity of competitiveness, workload, and pressure can vary from school to school. During your visits and talks with students and faculty, try to get an impression of the daily pressures of being a student in that particular program.

A good fit

Finally, as for any student, visual and performing arts students need to find a college that fits their personality, interests and goals. Especially for very ambitious students, it's easy to be dazzled by the prestige of a top professional school or arts department and overlook the question of whether the program is right for you.

"When working as dean of enrollment at New York City's Manhattan School of Music, I would run across the occasional unhappy student who came to New York City because someone else had told them that New York or Manhattan School of Music or a particular teacher was perfect for them. They listened to those mentors instead of their gut and made a wrong choice," says Gandre. "No matter how talented the student and how wonderful the school, fit is always crucial."

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