Friday, October 24, 2014

What’s the Difference Between an Art College and a Traditional Liberal Studies College?

By Michelle Kemp
Assistant Director of Admissions
Otis College of Art and Design

So, what is the difference between an Art College and a traditional liberal studies college? Apart from art as a major area of study, there are differences in curriculum, the community, and job prospects.

In general, students at an Art College spend roughly 2/3 of their time in studio art class learning how to become better visual artists, like illustrating a fashion model, animating the character of a game they are designing, or painting a canvas as big as a room. The other 1/3 would be spent in general studies. Yes, even in an Art College students have to study math, science, and English. However, these courses are generally curved towards the student’s visual arts major. Liberal Arts and Sciences courses are still important because alongside the art studio classes, students can begin to adapt their knowledge and hand skills to develop an understanding of context and culture with articulate expression and critical evaluation. The result is a deep respect and awe for human creativity and imagination.

The community is also very different at an Art College than at a traditional liberal studies college. Art Colleges are generally private, non-profit, four-year colleges, and it is because of this institution distinction, the communities are often small, but very connected. This means smaller class room sizes, greater student participation, and a high level of student-teacher interaction, mentorship and collaboration. In an Art College students will meet amazing faculty who really do know what they are talking about because they are practicing professionals. Overall there is a greater sense of community with your peers since the environment is full of other people that are also interested in art and design as a career. This concentration of like-minded students will make a huge difference in creativity, the level of connections, and overall enjoyment in an education.

All of these things will prepare a student who has studied at an Art College for work in a variety of sectors because of greater foundation knowledge in the creative industries. An education in the arts can also give strong introductions to career choices and because of a specialized knowledge, graduates of an Art College become more appealing to employers, and generally, a valuable community member.

The educational experiences a graduate of an Art College produce extremely well-rounded professionals that are talented communicators both visually and verbally, as well as having a greater sense of self confidence that sustains their art and design careers throughout their lives. And, they are literally getting paid for what they love to do!
Michelle lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture + New Genres from Otis College of Art and Design.

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