Stamps vs. other arts/design schools

DS was admitted at UMich Ann Arbor/ Stamps. He also has offers from Syracuse VPA, Marist, U Delaware and Indiana in Fashion Design Programs. All of these schools gave him merit scholarships (including Leadership Scholarship at Syracuse) but he didn’t get anything from Michigan. I am a Faculty and scientist at a highly ranked West Coast University and I don’t know anything about art schools/programs. My feeling is that Michigan as a University is more highly ranked than all the other places that he has offers from. However I am not sure about Stamps - it seems that they have no specific majors, and I have read some negative reviews about the school - hard to get into classes, students transferring to other schools etc. Any insights/feedback from students or parents of students currently studying at Stamps?

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I’m curious to hear some of this myself in the next few weeks…

I did a lot of research on this with my daughter, who wants to attend in the fall (she’s headed there this weekend to see if she’ll commit). She had applied to several other larger art & design schools with very specific tracks (graphic, industrial, product, fashion, interior, etc.), but in the end she is still a bit unsure whether she wanted to commit to such a particular or “vocational” track. What’s drawn her in so far is that she can/will explore more mediums and design theory before trying to think about specific career opportunities.

If you look at their course offerings through the “Design Your Curriculum” tool, you’ll notice that many of the courses offered are similar to those at highly ranked art & design programs (like USC, UT Austin, TCU, etc)…

I think from what she’s gathered, the BA/BFA will carry with it whatever specialization and experience your student can articulate. I see their alums doing many amazing and varied things. I’m leaving the reviews on Niche alone for now to gather more info…

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Thanks for your input. I am curious to hear what your daughter think of her visit. Please keep me posted.

I am a parent also from the west coast (Los Angeles area) and my son is a freshman at Stamps. The program is unique in that you have core classes freshman year and then you can design your own program based on your interests. Also, sophomore year you can also determine whether you want to move forward with a BA or BFA. My son will likely do a BA program as its more marketable and I’m trying to press him to explore a minor program as well which is doable in the 4 years. He has really enjoyed his classes although with COVID it was a tough first year. The school is small (about 160 freshman students) and the dean is accessible to parents. We had two zoom meetings with ther interim dean last year to discuss whether he should defer or not. I would suggest that if you have particular questions that your daughter reach out to the Stamps adminsitration. On the negative side, it is not clear how open the classes will be next fall but I think it is too early to tell right now. They are staying 65% of stamps will be in person but i think that will increase. My son has formed good relationships with his teachers–he received a great letter of recommendation from one of them as he is trying to get an internship.
I do think what is different from other schools is that you have the benefits of having a world class university available to you and can take classes outside of Stamps. I also think the Michigan name carries some weight and I see that with his applications for internships (which he is doing on his own). I think Michigan opens doors that other schools may not. That said he’s in a traditional art program not fashion design. I think that Indiana’s program may be stronger but that’s just my guess having had discussions regarding costume design programs with a friend of mine whose daughter is applying to Indiana. happy to answer any other questions you may have.

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this is great feedback, and falls in line with what I was expecting. I, too, am concerned about in person studio classes for next fall in particular, and I am seeing TONS of debate and hot air on the topic. I know the larger university has taken LOTS of heat for their approach to COVID, but I was encouraged when they announced 3/12 that the individual schools would have more discretion in determining the mix of remote, hybrid, and in person classes for the fall. That being said, I didn’t understand why ALL studios (under 20 students a class) aren’t being offered in person. Especially as everyone will have been offered the vaccine by then. I gather Stamps will try to prioritize this for freshmen (which seems unfair to others).

For us, being in person (for a studio art class - think materials, space, interaction, feedback) is an ABSOLUTE deal breaker. I can understand some of the larger liberal arts courses being remote, but to me art must be done in person. What’s more, this year being remote has nearly broken my daughter and gotten her to question her passion for art (which simply breaks my heart).

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I attended a UMichigan prospective parents zoom presentation and they said that large lectures would be online for the Fall semester, but that smaller classes (and presumably studio ones) would be in person. I am guessing it’s not set in stone but that’s the info I got from that session.

well that is where the debate and spicy rhetoric comes in… the schedule is already out, and has been declared by that school that it “won’t change” (at least to any MORE in person than it already shows)…

As for numbers, the school said that 65% will be taught in person, but really that includes hybrid (which many claim they hide behind and is at the discretion of faculty that teach the class). At best, those would be 50/50. Apparently, the freshman 100-level survey studios (2D/3D, Observational, etc.) have a good portion of sections in person, but some claim that some of the upper-level studios have NO in person options (all heresay). Again, not sure why/how they could offer NO options in person for any one studio course…seems to go against their statement. Sounds like the devil is in the details…

I fully agree as to the in-person classes for Art. Michigan didn’t handle COVID well in my opinion but it’s hard to control when most of the student populations lives off-campus. There is a lot of room in the art studios and I would reach out to the Dean to find out what there intentions are for the freshman class. My son had some in-person fall semester and some hybrid. Spring (in Michigan it is called Winter) was all remote. Hard but he has made the best of it. There were some classes that are upper level that must be in person. Hard to do a looming class without a loom. We were lucky that we went to the last new student admit day in February before the world shut down as my son was accepted as an Early Action candidate. The facilities are incredible and there is every possible art room available. I was highly impressed.

Coming from the West Coast, you can’t help but laugh when you read “Spring - in Michigan it is called Winter”… :grin:

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i think stamps is a great program for general studio art interest instead of a specialized program such as graphic design or fashion design. the broad interest will suits the Stamps school better since it is tricky for such interdisciplinary program to have many upper-class level studio courses in fashion design. i got into the cuse program and was impressed by their student work. it is uncommon for a large university like syracuse to have programs in illustration and communication design. marist and delaware certainly would not make the cut unless they offer large scholarship. it is critical for art majors to consider location, as cuse is (not super, bur fairly) close to nyc, and umich has a great connection with detroit area and fairly close to chicago. i did not get in to stamps though, haha, it would be cool to meet your son if i got off the waitlist at umich or end up at cuse. congrats on amazing options!!!

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Thanks! What program did you get in at Syracuse? What are your other options?

i got into studio arts but plans to change into communication design with a possible double major/minor in newhouse. my other options are fordham, uconn, ohio state, etc.

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Newhouse is probably one of the best schools at Syracuse so getting a minor from them would be a great idea. DS is leaning towards Syracuse because of the opportunities for fashion design vs Michigan. Financially it also makes more sense for us - we got 32k in merit from Syracuse vs zero from Michigan and having to pay out of state tuition…

yes, but it also depends on your son’s interest beside art (fashion design).
like, i think if he would like to pursuit other academic interests during his undergraduate studies, there is no better place to get an BA(rather than a studio-oriented BFA) in art and design along with another degree than at UMich, as UM is pretty much the top 15 of all undergraduate programs. i would like to assure you that stamps is a great program, but it certainly would not fit people with specific artistic pathway such as fashion design. the syracuse scholarship is so generous and i believe cuse has a very very well-rounded VPA department, at least I think it is more experimental than Stamps in term of student work (art can be subjective, so im not saying Stamps’ students’ artworks are bad, they are all great programs with talent students) I was set on cuse but i actually decide on getting into advertising at uiuc’s media school with a possible double major in BA studio art, although sadly its art program is not as large nor great. i might do sophomore transfer to a more rigorous art program at another university if i feel like art is what i will do as a career. best wishes and gimme his space on umich so i can get off from waitlist. just kidding, best luck!!

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