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MICA, freshman year

patoispatois Registered User Posts: 186 Junior Member
edited December 2008 in Visual Arts and Film Majors

Female, freshman, from NYC, came from small progressive school in Manhattan (not an arts high school), also considered some LAC's.


I'm taking 1/2 of the required foundation courses this semester, Elements of Visual Thinking pt. 1 of 2, Drawing 1 of 2, Sculptural Forms (3-d design), Critical Inquiry (Liberal arts req 1 of 2), and Electronic Media and Culture. Next semester I can look forward to my elective (Photo II) and Painting I as well as Art Matters (Art history liberal arts foundation req) and the 2nd part of the other year long classes.

My classes are challenging, to say the least. I find my drawing homework requires at LEAST 10 hours to get a positive critique from my drawing teacher. (He's not "mean", just very, very, very good about sniffing out BS)

Sculpture is another class that takes about 10-12 hours for the homework. Other classes depend on the week, and can be anywhere from 3 hours to more than 15 (For example, my last elements project had to do with a creative interpretation of "Grey scale" and needed 11 distinguishable parts. That took about 2 weeks to complete.) I'm not taking it this semester, but I hear painting is the hardest class.

Generally, the biggest challenge is being the most "creative" in classes. You need to come up with the best idea and execute it well... in under one week. It sounds like a no brainer, but well crafted pieces with rock solid concepts are what get the best crits. You're REALLY expected to speak for your work.

We're in the middle of getting ready for our midterm reviews (next week and the week after) where all of the projects that we've done so far have to have been documented, edited if needed, and presented as a mini-portfolio. So, right now, I really shouldn't be online. I also have a paper due tomorrow that I have about half finished. I'm taking a break from my studio, but I'll probably grab some lunch before i get back into stuff.

(Life here)

The food is actually pretty good. I heard some bad things last year and was a little worried, but i think they're trying harder this year because the upperclassmen seem really pleased. Lots of vegan options. The school isn't that big so they can spend a little more attention to quality than i think larger schools can.

I live in the commons and have a single, and i'm not going to lie, it was worth the extra $300 bucks. You spend SO much time in the dorms doing homework that if they weren't this nice, you'd go insane. You get to see your friends during "Homework parties" where people basically congregate in one persons apartment and settle down and do their work.

Baltimore gets HOT, so it's such a comfort to have air conditioning and heating units that we get to control. We have a full kitchen that gets a lot of use... other people do things like Spaghetti Saturdays or bake pies, vegan cupcakes, etc. Lots of dinner/homework parties.

Orientation was AWESOME. I'm not going to spoil it for anyone who might go to MICA because it's sooo much better if you don't know about the last night.


I love Baltimore. It's a very inexpensive city to live in, and coming from new york that's so nice. MICA is close to clubs like Ottobar and close enough to Sonar, Ramshead, etc. Concert tickets are like, 10 to 20 TOPS. Concerts are copious. (Seeing Gogol Bordello tonight, saw Man Man not too long ago, Of Montreal came through sunday night) There are always shows at the Charm City Art Space and Dan Deacon, OCDJ, Videohippos etc perform regularly. The upperclassmen are nice and will give you lots of tips and tell you where to go.

Food is so cheap. XS is a mica fave, so is Papermoon (even though it's closer to JHU) Basically if you walk down N. Charles you can find SOMETHING that suits you. You can get chinese, japanese, indian, pizza, etc delivered to the commons.

Baltimore is tag-sale crazy: you can't walk around on a weekend without running into one. There are atleast two always within immediate distance of MICA. There's also a free book warehouse up in Charles Village (JHUville) that's open on the weekends that people hit up if they need thing for collages or just want to read something for free.

the more culture-savvy JHU kids are more than willing to make the trek to MICA and do, a lot.. I have a good friend who goes there and we've been having JHU/MICA mixers that usually start with us cooking food and end with them doing the dishes. (Good deal!)

I should probably stop procrastinating and attack the huge mound of homework I have.

So.. yeah! If anyone has any questions I'll gladly answer them :)
Post edited by patois on

Replies to: MICA, freshman year

  • sketchysketchy Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Thanks a lot for taking the time to post your informative report, patois. MICA is on my son's short list of colleges he's applying to.

    I'm curious, did you get lucky to get the single dorm? I know there was a housing shortage when we visited last year, but I thought MICA was building new housing. Do you know what the housing situation is for sophomores on up?
  • m&sdadm&sdad Registered User Posts: 1,201 Member
    D is a sophmore at MICA. They are currently building/aquiring housing for upper classmen. There is a lottery for upperclassmen, and the odds are not great. D is in an apartment, her BF is in MICA housing, but did not get his top housing choices.

    D enjoyed freshman year for the most part, but did have a teacher for Advanced Painting who was unqualified. The entire class considering going to the administration, but ended up giving an across the board negative teacher appraisal at semester end. D is now completely soured on painting.

    D was home for fall break. We live in a similar sized city, but she is really down about the violent crime around campus. A friend was held up, did not have any cash, but was still beaten unconcious. Two other friends were punched in the back of the head from behind while walking down the street. Other friends have been shot by a BB gun near the K - 8 school on the edge of campus.

    She is still at MICA, and plans to graduate from there, but be aware of the crime factor.
  • MoominmamaMoominmama Registered User Posts: 827 Member
    Thanks for the great report, patois. It really gives a picture of the town and the school. Back to work for you now, young lady! :) (But post again when you get some time.)
  • sketchysketchy Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Thanks for the info, m&sdad. Being from DC, I've been around the campus a few times, but always in the daytime. It's good to have a realistic view of things now, rather than find things out the hard way.
  • patoispatois Registered User Posts: 186 Junior Member
    sketchy, i'm not sure if i got lucky or not, i basically just filled out the form and sent a deposit within one week of recieving the housing papers.

    I think a lot of the upperclassmen live off campus because it's a lot less expensive than the MICA housing. Don't know anything about the housing lottery..

    the gateway building will have something like 200 more beds in it, though, and it's supposed to be for juniors and seniors

    I guess i haven't been here long enough to have experienced crime first hand but our orientation leaders kind of beat preventative measures into our heads. A friend of mine did get mugged. However, he was skateboarding alone after midnight.

    Luckily I don't have any bad teachers this semester, crossing my fingers for next semester too.
  • sketchysketchy Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Thanks for the info, patois. It's really useful to hear this inside info on colleges. I've been checking craigslist for rentals around MICA, and it does seem like you can rent places near campus pretty cheap.

    I just got back from touring Pratt with my son, and going only on my impressions, MICA is the only "stand alone" art school left on my son's shrinking college list.
  • RainingAgainRainingAgain Registered User Posts: 699 Member
    BTW, if you are at MICA for Graphic Design, be sure to take a class with the Chair of the undergraduate program, Bernard Caniffe. He is from Wales, and an outstanding professor - funny guy, but also will be very honest with you, so be open to constrctive criticism. When I decide to go into teaching I'd probably choose MICA if he is there.

    If you are in the grad program, check out the High Priestess of G.D. Eleanor Lupton, Chair of the graduate G.D. program I think. I have never met her - I took classes with Bernard - but she is one of the industry's most influential people presently. Her husband is also pretty well known - though his name escapes me momentarily...J Abbott? Eh, I lost it.

    Best of luck to you!
  • patoispatois Registered User Posts: 186 Junior Member
    End of first semester report:

    haha wow, i can't believe it's actually over. There were some serious all-nighters towards the end, finals were pretty intense. Midterms got about 2-3 weeks but finals got 2 weeks maximum. So there was a lot of crunching.

    One of my apartment mates (out of 3) had a little bit of a stress related breakdown towards the end of the semester. She's fine, she was able to finish all of her finals and ultimately was okay, but it was still scary.

    I thought people were joking when they said that foundation year squeezes out the kids who aren't serious, but it's actually quite true. On my radar, about 5 kids have left MICA/asked to leave.

    I finished off with a great GPA so i'm very pleased with myself, but knowing that you actually have to work hard for a great GPA makes it even better. A lot of people who I know did what would be considered the "average" amount of hanging out/work ended up in the lower 3's, those who really bucked up were mid to upper 3's, and those with no social lives were upper 3's to a four, and even then.. perfection is so close yet so far.

    Next semester I have:

    Photo II (I tested out of photo I by portfolio review - about 9 or 10 kids did as well, i think? out of a possible 65 or more.)
    Painting I
    Drawing II
    Elements of Visual Thinking II (General 2-d, the focus this semester is on color)
    and Art History: General theory and criticism.

    So my classes are Monday through friday, all 9 am to 3 pm. I have workstudy on Friday morning, and then my weekend kicks off around 12:30 pm. Not too bad, i'd say.. lets see how i feel about it around finals.
  • sketchysketchy Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Thanks for the update, patois! It sounds like MICA's a great school as long as you're serious about art. It sure sound like you spend a lot of time in class.

    I take it you liked your classes and teachers?

    Congratulations on your hard-earned sucess.
  • shoegoo32shoegoo32 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    hey! it seems like MICA is always raving about their unique focus on the academics that other art schools dont have. well they liberal arts classes... but they're kind of a joke. The lady who gave me a portfolio review couldn't stop talking about how well rounded mica students are because they're also very intelligent. Is this actually true?
  • m&sdadm&sdad Registered User Posts: 1,201 Member
    My D attends Mica and spends as much time and effort on the liberal arts classes as on the art classes. They want to graduate students who can think, and academic acheivement is a component of their merit based scholarships.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
    Shoogoo32 notes,"The lady who gave me a portfolio review couldn't stop talking about how well rounded mica students are because they're also very intelligent. Is this actually true?"

    Response: Being from Maryland, I've gotten to know a lot about MICA. I even had the pleasure of meeting one of the associate deans. MICA is among one of the very few stand alone art schools that take their liberal arts VERY seriously. RISD is probably the other one.

    MICA values academics for both admission and scholarships. They don't water down their liberal arts courses either, as some art schools are known to do.

    Thus, what the MICA representative said to you seems quite correct.
  • patoispatois Registered User Posts: 186 Junior Member
    Second semester has already been so much harder that first semester.

    i think because we now have high personal expectations as well as knowing how much effort is required, making it all the more daunting. Projects are starting to take longer, from 1 week to 2 weeks.

    My drawing class has entirely moved into concept based work - which is awesome for me and my classmates, since we're nearly all photography and video majors. So as long as our work includes line and mark making, it's considered "drawing". So a lot of what's been done has been sewing, impression, video, performance, etcetera. It's probably my favorite class, next to Photo.

    Painting is hard. MICA takes their painting department REALLY seriously, in the most non-serious way possible.

    we declared majors yesterday. It was emotional for some people, while others were kind of "whatever" about it. I declared Photo.

    Art Matters is also another demanding class.

    Actually, the only class that ISN'T exceptionally demanding this semester is my general 2-d course with my advisor, that's kind of like a half studio. (4 hrs long) Mostly because she doesn't want to kill us.

    Work study situation is intense, I now have 8 hours in the office and 5 hours in the PhotoCrib.

    Parents weekend was this past weekend! So that afforded us a little bit of a break.

    Now, if i could just stop having car trouble.. i'd be golden.

    Congrats to all the new admits! Maybe I'll see you next year :)
  • jocanjocan Registered User Posts: 165 Junior Member
    Patois, Thanks for the update. It has been great to read your posts. A couple of "quality of life" questions:

    How are the dorms? You live in a single, but is it a single room within a suite with others? How helpful has it been for you to have a car there?
  • m&sdadm&sdad Registered User Posts: 1,201 Member

    D is a soph at MICA. She has a car there this year, and is glad of it. There is a large campus lot for students. She kind of isolated without one last year.
This discussion has been closed.