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Art school or academic school

AK24AK24 9 replies5 threads New Member
I got accepted to the Corcoran and MICA this year and after much deliberation I finally decided on MICA. I was also accepted to Colby-Sawyer College, which is a liberal arts school in New Hampshire. MICA is giving me $20,000 in fin aid only $8500 of which is a scholarship and there's no way that I can afford the rest so I will be taking out another $20,000-$30,000 loan. It costs around $30,000 to attend Colby Sawyer and they're giving me $21,000 in aid $17,000 of which is scholarships.

I just finished community college as a outstanding graduate of my campus and some high national recognitions so I knew that an academic school would offer me more, but I really want to go to art school for photography. Is $40,000 per year worth it to go to art school or should I go with the liberal arts school, which will be cheaper? And I know I have my master's, which could be done at an art school too.

I know the ultimate decision will be mine, but I would appreciate if I could get some of your opinions. Thank you.
edited July 2006
8 replies
Post edited by AK24 on
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Replies to: Art school or academic school

  • RainingAgainRainingAgain 689 replies10 threads Member
    <<Is $40,000 per year worth it to go to art school>>

    Find a cheaper school for photography, such as RIT, or even SCAD which is very generous and will likely offer academic plus portfolio based scholarships, and even need-based. You can't get rich in photography; you can do well, but not rich as far as I can see. I have friends whose careers have been up and down and up and down. I would try to minimize the cost. RIT is a really good school and with room and board, I'm guessing its $28k/year. Others will know better however.
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  • unsoccer-momunsoccer-mom 528 replies34 threads Junior Member
    AK24, will you be a sophmore or junior at MICA? Most art schools do not take a lot of credits when you transfer. You said you would need to borrow 20-30k. Let's split the diffrence and say 25k. So will the total be 50k or 75k. either way that is much too much money. Yes, ultimately the decision is yours. But, I would take the liberal arts and leave school with very little debt and concentrate on getting your MFA at an art school.

    I did take a look at Colby-Sawyer and they don't offer much in the way of a photography program, but I still can't say its worth going that much in debt.
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  • MrKirkMrKirk 37 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thats true, as I found when transferring from a community college to art school, they don't take much in the way of credits. Most art schools have a pretty concrete curriculum, so unless you have taken lots of studio art courses (which my community college didn't offer much of), you will probably be going for the full 3-4 years, maybe with just a less intensive schuedule, as you won't need to take the liberal arts courses you transfer.

    As I said before, 40k a year for an art school is ridiculous considering it is training you in a field that you would be very lucky to make 40k a year to start. Go to a school that you can afford and that you are content with in the quality of its program. 90% of the success you have as an artist will be based on your own merit, not on the name of the school from which you graduated.
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  • AK24AK24 9 replies5 threads New Member
    Thanks for the comments.

    RainingAgain: I wish I had checked out other schools. I was planning to stay either in the DC metro area because that's where I'm from or go to New Hampshire with my husband who'll be doing a residency at Dartmouth. So I didn't even check out art schools in other areas.

    And I'm actually coming in as almost a junior. I did take studio classes at my CC. MICA only accepts 63 transfer credits and they're accepting 57 from me. I'm even going to see if they will accept another class to make it 60.

    I know much of a artist's success comes from their own merit, but I also wanted to be able to learn as much as I can before really getting into the career. Like you said unsoccer-mom, Colby Sawyer has almost a nonexistent photography program compared to these other schools. I want a school that's going to show me all of the fine points of photography. I want to learn color darkroom processing and more about B&W processing, medium format, large format, lighting...everything. It's important to me that has a photography program of at least twenty specialized classes instead of five. I also want a school that will immerse me into the art world with exhibtions, contacts and such, not a school that is so far from the whole art scene, in my opinion.

    Maybe I should really work on scholarships for my second year so if I do need to take out such loans then they won't be too too too much. I was told by the transfer counselor at MICA that there are great opportunites for scholarships going into the senior year, which she got. She basically got alot of her tuition taken care of through this scholarship. Perhaps my goal should be to reach a state of excellence that will make me competitive for these scholarships.

    I'm so indecisive that I'm lucky I chose between the Corcoran and MICA. I actually wish that I hadn't gotten the award letter from C-S so I wouldn't know what I was being offered.
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  • liek0806liek0806 3178 replies138 threads Senior Member
    i honestly think going to an art school, and depending on financial aid, or at least needing it, is not worth it for any type of fine art major such as photography or painting, because these majors don't lead to high paying jobs.

    Where as if you majored in a design field, at least there's more flexibility. Such as advertising design. An advertising desing major would involve more than just Photography skills. It asks you to view what you see in the camera differently, it also prepares you with smart writing, whether it's copies, captions, and to always be on your toes of finding new and exciting things that grabs consumers attention.
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  • liek0806liek0806 3178 replies138 threads Senior Member
    By the way, how about Fashion Institute of Technology in new york city. as an out of state student, at the most including full tuition and student housing your cost would be 20K per year, as tuition for out of state kids is like 8K.
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  • ErlindaPErlindaP 65 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I'm an professional artist. I've been out of grad school for 22 years and making a living as an artist that whole time. I agree with previous posters that taking on a big debt is not a good idea, unless your spouse can help you repay it. It's possible to earn a decent living as an artist if you are willing to work very hard, but a big debt to repay would put a burden on your time right when you need to be especially focussed on building a portfolio and resume as an artist. After school if you can work part time at a normal job and focus on your work the rest of the time you have a decent shot at making it. Working 40 hours a week to pay living expenses with some to spare to repay a debt would really undermine your ability to get your career as an artist off the ground.

    If you put together a strong portfolio as an undergrad you can probably become a teaching assistant in graduate school which pays, builds a resume and at most state schools come with in-state tuition. Some state schools have very strong MFA programs and with in state tuition and a TA can be great experiences at a very affordable cost. It might be worth looking at a state school with a BFA program for continuing your undergraduate art education. Also-Cooper Union in NYC is tuition free for all students. You might consider taking a year off to build a portfolio and then reapplying to undergraduate school at a school that is both affordable and that has a strong photography department, they are out there. Good Luck!
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  • m&amp;sdadm&amp;sdad 1188 replies13 threads Member
    My D just graduated from HS and got decent merit based offers from CMU and Mica. SAIC may also be a good option for merit aid in photography, and SCAD or RIT, as someone else suggested. Also what is the art program like at you state school(s)?

    Think it may make sense to work on your portfolio and reapply for this year, spread a wider net for merit based aid from art schools.

    Agree with the general concensus that loans to pay the majority of an education in Art is a risky proposition.
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