Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Book Recommendation

If you are serious about pursuing the arts, I would recommend that you pick up Elaina Loveland's book: Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers. While a bit older, it offers advice coupled with real examples to help students understand the admissions process for prospective artists.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Majoring in the "Arts"

Your college search should start with you pondering your iikes and dislikes about a variety of fields under the College of Arts and Sciences. Arts include such majors as psychology, sociology, human services, social work, and a host of others. To get off to a great start decide what you know you are not interested in and eliminate untecessary searching and wasting time on fields that you have no interest in. If you are a creative or visual artists just hone in on institutions that bring out the best of what you are skilled at. A final alternative is to enter college as an undecided student (which is perfectly fine and common) and take a variety of classes to decided what peeks my interests and go from there.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Starting Your Search

Are you interested in majoring in the arts? Fortunately, there are abundant resources to help you. Start with people you know, such as a theater teacher, drama coach and guidance counselor. They know you and might already have ideas regarding a college of best fit. There are wonderful online and book resources. Use collegeboard.com, and follow the instructions: http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/index.jsp. You can search this database in a number of different ways. My favorite search tool is Fiske's Guide to Colleges, which is updated regularly and widely available. You can use the front matter to find recommendations of colleges of different sizes and locations; then read up and see what you think! I really like the overlap section in Fiske's; this enables you to find schools that are similar to those you already prefer.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Decide the Type of School and Degree First

If you want to major in the arts your first decision should be the type of school or program. Do you want a school exclusively devoted to performance and art education such as Juilliard or the Berklee School of Music? Would you prefer to study in the art, music, theater, or dance department in a more traditional university setting? Once you know the type of school you prefer, narrow down programs by degrees offered. Look at the requirements for a generalized liberal arts education with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree versus the more specialized and intensive Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) degrees. Of course, you should follow up this initial research by talking with students, professors, and professionals and making visits to the top colleges on your list.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

Look at the differences in a conservatory versus a college department program. Which best suits you? Start there!

Claire Law

Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

Any college search starts with self-assessment. You need to be brutally honest with yourself and assess what exactly are you good at, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time, what are your academic strengths? If you were working with me, I would help you with this assessment by asking you questions such as what do you value most, what is it that you dream of when you really think about your future, what type of artist do you want to become, what are your strengths and weaknesses, and what are you doing now to get there later?

Benjamin Waldmann

Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

Obviously due to the criteria of the question we are assuming that you simply want to major in the art's and not go to art's school. No two schools are the same, the program of two school's offering a major in the art's can vary in many different ways therefore it's essential to visit the particular school's that you may be interested in and and catch a lesson or performance to get a better idea as to what that specific art's program is offering. Narrow down your search based upon all the other requirements you are looking for and be in constant contact with those particular school's to really get a good understanding at how that specific art's major is run. The same question's need to be asked again and again at the different schools so that you will be able to balance the like's and dislikes for each program. Another important point point is to make sure that the program is accredited otherwise this may come back to haunt you if deciding to carry on in art's for a more specialised graduate program. Remember, if you took art's in high school do not expect a program which is generally performing assessment's and group based with a broad base of teaching otherwise you will probably be in for a surprise! Most program's will require a lot more individual performance therefore organisation and responsibility are very important. Expect a lot more theory and written work which may or may not be to your expectations.

Angela Conley
College Admission Expert VentureForth

Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

Arts majors should complete specific research based on your area of interest. If fine arts are your bent, many schools offering the majors participate in the National Portfolio Review Day (NPRD). The website, of the same name, is updated regularly and provides specific information as to whether portfolios are required, and if required the site clarifies whether portfolios are accepted through online sites such as flikr.com or slideshare.com; or in some cases expected for assessment the day the college/university hosts the event in major cities across the United States annually. If your interests are the visual /performing arts, often auditions are required. I recommend students begin their search with the site of the college/conservatory program of interest as they all clarify whether auditions are required and if so, how they are conducted and the expectations of the number of pieces required instrumental/voice/dance. Some colleges, such as Julliard host regional auditions. It's best to begin at each school's website.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

What art are you interested in? This is an important question as institutions can limit the offerings available. For example, they may have theater program, but limit musical theater options. Look at their course catalogues and majors and see if they have a program that supports your specific discipline. After you have gone through this process, you will have a basic list of schools that support your field. Whittle down this list by other criteria such as size, location, etc. and see what you can learn about each institution's artistic philosophy. Do they appreciate alternative forms of expression? Offer contemporary as well as classical music options? Do they focus on the arts or is it simply an afterthought? You will be surprised as to how this can refine your search.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

The first step is to identify which colleges offer the programs you are interested in pursuing. A conversation with your art teacher can be a good start. If you have any art schools or colleges with an art department that offers what you are interested in studying, visit and ask to meet the art teachers. Even though you may not apply there, it is good practice to learn about the application process for the arts.