5 Tips for Choosing an Art School

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1. Access the Student Forums

When you’re getting ready to choose an art school, ask for access to the online student posting forums. Most any college these days will have a formal or informal intranet where students share ideas, tell stories, and post messages about the program. If you can gain access to one of these forums (on Facebook, Slack, or whatever), you’ll find out a lot more than you would if you take a campus tour with a student embassador.

2. Check Out the Job Placement Record

Check into how many students graduate and then go on to do nothing. If there’s a trend, it’s possible that there’s something more going on than the school only accepting lazy students. If the school doesn’t have job placement statistics, search the school on LinkedIn and see what graduates are doing for a living. Do they work in the arts or in a cafe?

3. Look At the Student Loan Default Record

Every school has a percentage of students who graduate and then fall into default on their student loans. It’s to be expected that even the best schools will have a few people who, for whatever reason, can’t pay their bills. However, if the college has an incredibly high ratio of students that graduate and end up unable to earn a living, then something is wrong. Maybe they’re all disgruntled and refusing to pay for a lousy education.

4. Ask to Speak to a Disgruntled Graduate

You may not get far with this request, but every college has an angry student. If, for whatever reason, you actually get put in touch with an angry student, really listen to what they say. Did the school fix things?

5. Contact the Alumni Network

Interviewing a graduate who has been away from the college for five years or more will give you a totally different perspective. Current students know what’s happening on campus, but graduated students know what’s going on in the real world. They’ll be able to tell you how the reputation of the college is received by artists, galleries, and potential employers. Students who have graduated may be less worried about giving a frank review if they’ve already made their way in the world.