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    Is Art School Worth It?

    Posted August 25, 2022, 10:00 am by Johnathan Kindall
    A close up of a collection of paint supplies

    Is Art School Worth It? Here's 3 Reasons Why It Might Be

    A career in the visual or performing arts can be incredible, high-paying and rewarding, allowing students from all walks of life to follow their dreams and make a career of doing something that they love. But is art school worth it? 

    Perhaps this is a question that you’ve heard from doubtful family members when you or your student expressed interest in studying the arts in college. Or maybe it's a question asked out of financial necessity, and you’ve found yourself asking if it’s really worth it to pay today’s exorbitant tuition just to get an art degree? 

    In many circumstances, attending art school is absolutely still worth it, and we highly recommend it. While an art degree does not immediately turn one into an artist, the connections and knowledge that come with obtaining such a degree can fast-track students to success, and there are plenty of artists who would never be where they are today without the assistance they received back in school. 

    However, the truth is that whether or not one decides to go to art school depends on a number of different factors, as does whether or not they succeed while they’re there. Art school can be an exciting, electric experience full of inspiration, creativity and collaboration, but each individual student will get out of it what they put in. Setting your own expectations and understanding the benefits and risks will ensure that you can make the decision that is right for you or your young artist. 

    Here’s 3 reasons why we think going to art school is worth it! 

    "Is Art School Worth It?" is one of the many different questions that we explore in the forthcoming TeenLife Guide to Performing and Visual Arts Colleges. Stay tuned for the 2022 version of this annual guide, coming soon! 

    1. Networking

    an sculpting student wondering is art school worth it

    One of the biggest benefits of attending college is the ability to connect and network with professors and like-minded peers in your field. In fact, proper networking skills are often just as important to landing a job out of college as individual talent or knowledge might be. From business students to journalists and all the way to artists, the ability to learn from and leverage your relationships with others is one of the biggest advantages of obtaining a university degree. 

    For art majors, this is even more important. While it's obviously possible to meet other artists outside of an institutional learning environment, the ability to do so in a space where everyone is focussed on learning and growing cannot be understated. In art school, everyone you meet is a future collaborator. The person who sat next to you in your introductory acting class? They could be directing their first movie in five years. The classmate who practiced with you before a recital? They could pull you into a last minute touring gig. Relationships with an arts professor can be even more rewarding and impactful, as many professors still work and practice in their own field and can offer insider knowledge, career tips, and even jobs to upperclassmen. 

    In the art world, for better or for worse, it often comes down to who you know, and one of the very best ways to know people is to meet them in college. If you go to art school and don’t actively try to widen your network as far as possible, you’re not getting the most out of your education, and the experience may not end up being worth it. 

    2. Critique

    Ballet dancers on a stage

    Listening to and properly implementing feedback and critique is one of the most important things that an artist can do in order to improve their work and become a better artist. However, for many young artists, it can be hard to know where to find this critique. How do you tell constructive criticism from the destructive? How do you find someone who actually understands your medium, who knows what to say to actually help you improve?

    Access to unbiased, constructive criticism and critique from experts is another one of the biggest benefits of attending an art school, and a major reason to consider attending. This is especially true if you’re working in an older medium like sculpting or painting, where the best practices have been handed down for hundreds of years, but it’s also important for newer and less established traditions like digital art and graphic design. You’ll never know what you’re doing wrong or how to get better unless someone tells you, and professors at art schools are often there to do just that. 

    If you're asking is art school worth it, critique from a practiced professional may be one of the best answers to why it is. It’s not that there aren’t other ways to grow and improve your art without expert critique, but, for some students, it may take twice as long to develop the style or skills they’re going for. In a field where being at the right place at the right time is as important as anything else, that might not be a risk you want to take.

    3. Motivation

    Girl with guitar playing with band is art school worth it

    If you’re been pursuing your art on the side throughout high school, perhaps you’ve struggled with motivating yourself. It’s true, sometimes, picking up the pencil or tuning the instrument can be the hardest part of the job. Art schools then, which offer a dedicated space in which to explore and pursue your artistic passion with no distractions, can be a huge benefit to students like these. 

    Constantly having assignments due and being held accountable for your work is an experience that most artists who are just starting out will never experience outside of college. Being a working artist means keeping strange hours and meeting strict deadlines, and the college experience teaches this like nothing else. In fact, for some art students, the organizational skills learned at school are just as important as the artistic ones. 

    Another aspect of this is competition. There’s little that is more motivating than being surrounded by dozens of artists who are all trying to make it in the same industry as you. This competitive environment can go too far of course, but healthy competition with others is one of the best ways that arts schools keep students on their toes and focussed. 

    Conclusion: Is Art School Worth It?

    In the end, no one can make the decision on whether or not art school is worth it except you and your family. Each individual's situation is different, and traditional art school is not the answer for everyone.

    That being said though, we hope this article has shown that art school is still worth it in a number of different ways. Offering a unique learning environment that is perfect for collaboration, growth, and self-motivation, art schools everywhere are still bastions of learning that are worth the cost of entry for students around the world. 

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    Johnathan Kindall

    Johnathan Kindall is the Content Editor at TeenLife Media. He attended Boston University’s College of Communications, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Journalism. Johnathan is dedicated to launching teens into life by providing a number of resources that help teens navigate the world of college, enrichment learning and more.