There are a number of options for students who want to study art in college, and it is important to choose the right kind of program. If you think you want to major in art but are not sure that you want to pursue a career as an artist, a liberal arts college with a good art program could be just right. You would earn a Bachelor of Art (BA) degree and take a fair number of liberal arts courses in addition to art classes. You could even double major or minor in another subject, and it should be easy to change your major if you decide art is not for you. Your group of friends would include students who are majoring in different subjects, and you would have a traditional college experience.
If you are a committed artist and want professional training to prepare you for a career, you could be a good candidate for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. If you study at an art school, you will be immersed in art, spending much of your time in a studio. You begin taking foundation courses in art during your first semester, and you will take fewer liberal arts courses, typically in the humanities and social sciences rather than math and natural sciences. You will be part of a community of people who share your passion for art. You need to be very sure that you want to pursue a career in art, because if you change your mind, you may only be able to transfer a limited number of credits to a liberal arts school.
At an art school within a university, you can get the professional training of a BFA program and have access to the resources of a university. You will not be only surrounded by art students but will meet people with diverse interests and have the option to participate in traditional college experiences such as football games and fraternity parties.
Making sure a college is a good match for your needs is always important, but even more so for students who are pursuing a professional art degree. You need to know what kind of art education you want and you need to make sure that the school’s philosophy and approach is right for you. Find out if the teachers are practicing artists and look at their work. Check out the school’s facilities and equipment. As an art student, having access to museums and galleries is also valuable.
If you want to major in art at a liberal arts college, you won’t need a portfolio for admission to the college, though you may want to submit one for scholarship consideration, as many schools offer talent scholarships. If you apply to a BFA program, your portfolio will be extremely important.
Each school has its own instructions for submitting a portfolio. You will need 10 to 15 pieces that convey the breadth and depth of your work. You may be required to write a personal statement about your artwork. Your art teacher may be able to help you put together a portfolio or you may want to find a consultant who specializes in art school admission.
National Portfolio Day is held in cities around the country. If you want to study visual arts in college, this is a wonderful opportunity to get advice about your portfolio. You need to have a plan in order to make the best use of Portfolio Day. It is usually crowded, and you could spend a lot of time waiting in line to talk to a representative, so locate the two or three schools you are most interested in and start with your favorite school. More information is available at National Portfolio Day Association.