Hearing about the above students getting accepted to UCLA Art has reminded me of something that I learned years ago while trying to decode the college admissions game in an effort to better the odds for my 2 daughters. The art facilities matter in a way that is not immediately intuitive. Lemme 'splain.
Let me pick on 2 universities to illustrate my finding: UCLA and Pepperdine.
UCLA has a separate 9 story building entirely devoted to Art majors. Massive areas for the students to create, easy access to supplies, and world-class art professors and guest lecturers. There are 2 art museums on campus and UCLA is completely connected with the overall art world in Los Angeles.
Pepperdine has a very small area on one floor within the Humanities building. The art professors are fine but not world-class. No other real investments in art majors.
So obviously art students will most likely develop more consistently and at a higher level at UCLA. BUT here’s the trick I learned as all this relates to art admissions for ANY school – schools that have huge investments in buildings, professors, etc means that they have an equally huge desire to attract top talent.
It’s very much like sports. Look at USC and their football stadium, the Coliseum. Think of the size of that commitment. Now to make that work USC has to continuously field top talent with top coaches, and top resources to hopefully get top results. When that happens the financial investment pays off. USC doesn’t have a choice, they HAVE to attract top HS players.
So my lightbulb moment was that by becoming the best high school artist in some medium means that you are sought after by the schools that have made serious commitments to art majors. In fact these schools are hungry for the top artists. But the reverse is also true. Schools like Pepperdine that have small commitment don’t value the top HS artists in the application cycle. So your admissions portfolio means almost zero to a school like this.
In fact, this theory was proven by my oldest daughter. One of the top photography major applicants in her year. She was accepted to UCLA and denied at Pepperdine which was one of her safety schools. At first it was sort of mind blowing but after we looked at it through using the above thinking it made more sense.
Future applicants can use this little trick to their advantage by researching schools and ranking the commitments levels in the art department for each school. This will tell you a lot about if that university is hungry for your particular talents and the students will see their odds improve in direct proportion to the quality of their portfolios.
Hope this makes sense.