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You often hear the advice that you shouldn’t decide what school you’re going to based on your major. But what if there are entire colleges dedicated to your program of study? Surely, your major has to cross your mind during the college decision process when you’re interested in art. So should you go to art school or should you go to a traditional university? Check out these questions to consider.

Will you have access to equipment and studio space?

Art schools often provide students with access to equipment and studio space. Because art schools are specialized, art is obviously the focus; however, this doesn’t mean that traditional universities don’t have resources available. Do your research and see what kind of facilities and equipment are available within art departments at traditional schools, or if having all of the up to date equipment at your fingertips is super important to you, look into possibly going to an art school.

What networking opportunities will be available?

Art schools could have more networking opportunities specifically for art students because again, they’re specialized. However, traditional schools in bigger cities or with top professors could also have similar opportunities. Nowadays, networking and creating portfolios online is also a possibility, so it depends on how important direct networking is to you. Also consider what opportunities you would have to showcase your work. This might be difficult to determine from websites and even on campus visits, because universities will always emphasize that there are lots of networking opportunities. If you have the opportunity to speak with current students, professors or alumni, take advantage of it.

How will you explore your other interests?

Some art schools offer courses in other areas, but art is their focus and expertise. If you have many other interests and want to take a variety of courses outside of your art program, you might benefit from going to a traditional university. However, if you’re confident that you can explore your other interests outside the classroom, then art school could be a great option.

Do you want a more diverse (in terms of majors/interests) student body?

At art school, everyone is an art student. At a traditional university, you’ll probably have a tight knit art program, but you’ll also be surrounded by students in a variety of other programs. If you want to be around a more traditional student body, then you might want to consider a traditional university. There’s also, of course, the option of choosing an art school that’s nearby a traditional university.

Does traditional college life matter to you?

Football games. School spirit. Grassy quads. Greek Life. These images often come to mind when we think of the traditional college experience, but that doesn’t mean they’re a necessary part of the college experience. Do you care if your campus has a popular sports team and students sporting spirit wear constantly, or would you rather attend a college in a big city and live in an off-campus apartment anyways?

How specific do you want your program to be?

Traditional colleges can offer specific programs, but generally, they offer more general art degrees because art isn’t the focus of the entire institution. If you want a general art, drawing or graphic design degree, many traditional universities offer those. But if you’re looking at specific programs such as art therapy or art management, an art school might be a good choice.

Are you certain about what you want to study?

This is perhaps the most important question in your decision: are you sure you want to study art? If you go to an art school then decide you don’t want to study art, you’d have limited options. Traditional colleges offer more opportunities to switch majors. Transferring schools is an option too though, so you’re not trapped if you decide to go to an art school then change your mind.

What about finances?

This isn’t always the case, especially if you get scholarships and financial aid, but art schools can be more expensive than traditional universities. How much are you willing to spend on your education? Is the difference between art school and a traditional university’s art program worth the cost to you?

Overall, do your research; offerings at a traditional university could surprise you, but you could still end up deciding that an art school would be a better fit for you.

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Paige Sheffield is a student at Central Michigan University. In addition to writing for The Prospect, she writes for her campus newspaper, You On Top Magazine, and more. She is also a TP Editorial Internship Co-coordinator. She loves poetry, coffee, statement jewelry, zumba, politics, and the Great Lakes. She is passionate about arts education and currently volunteers and interns with organizations that provide art-related programming to underserved populations. You can follow her on twitter @paige_sheff.

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