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By: Scott Cline on June 1st, 2017

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2 Questions to Ask About an Art College Faculty

Questions to Ask | For Undergraduates

Going to art college is a big decision and there are a number of variables to think through before you officially enroll. One of the most important factors to consider when evaluating an art college is the quality of their faculty. After all, they are the ones who you’ll be learning from, who will be critiquing your work, and hopefully providing you with the skills you need to be a successful contributor to the creative economy after graduation.

As you search for an art college, you want the school you choose to help you achieve your career goals and your creative ones. A school with exceptional faculty can prepare you to do both.

Here are two questions to ask admissions counselors, faculty you meet on campus tours, and faculty who may visit your high school campus:

1. Do The Faculty Have Strong Industry Connections?

There are basically two things that can help improve your chances of getting the attention of a top employer, like Pixar, for example.  

  1. Industry connections and networking opportunities help you get your foot in the door.
  2. An impressive portfolio of work that shows you know your stuff and have developed your own unique creative vision.

Why do industry connections matter?

Many art colleges tout their faculty’s accomplishments, awards, and advanced degrees. These accolades are important, but if you have your sights set on a certain career path, look for faculty that are practitioners in their field of study and also maintain ongoing relationships in those fields.

Faculty can  help you identify and apply for relevant internships, plug into professional networks, and provide a reference for you when the time comes — provided you’ve earned it, of course.

For example, after 15 years in professional practice, Graham Plumb recently became a full-time interaction design professor at California College of the Arts. But he hasn’t let that stop him from keeping in touch with his industry.

He’s gone out on his own to speak with local business leaders, forge connections and ask them what skills students need to be successful contributors to the new creative economy.

Faculty connections to industry can open up a world of possibilities for talented students.

2. Will Their Curriculum and Project Work Prepare Me for My Career?

Art college coursework is a mix of theory and practice but your exposure to bleeding-edge trends is just as important as your skill set.  

  • If you study architecture, you’ll need to be familiar with the latest building materials, sustainable design principles and have experience using cutting-edge design software.
  • If you study fashion design, staying ahead of the latest trends in sustainable design is everything, while also mastering the fundamentals, such as knitting and draping.
  • If you study film, you’ll need to immerse yourself in the language of filmmaking, in the past, present, and future, as well as on the big screen, the small screen, and the digital screen.

What we’re talking about, of course, are the skills, exposure, and experience you’ll need to put together a killer portfolio that will blow the minds of future employers. But beyond that, the right faculty will  empower you to make your mark wherever you end up.

If your art college faculty aren’t making waves in these arenas, it will be so much harder for you to.

What Would You Like to Ask an Art College Faculty Member?

What’s important to you as you compare art colleges and evaluate their faculty? Share your questions in the comments section below.

The quality, academic experiences, connections, and track record of faculty are all important factors to consider when choosing an art school. But they’re not the only factors. Get the complete rundown in our free guide, “10 Steps to Choosing the Right Art School for Your Career.”

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About Scott Cline

Dr. Scott Cline is vice president of enrollment at California College of the Arts, where he leads the financial aid and undergraduate admissions offices. He has worked at CCA for over six years, previously as director and associate director of financial aid.

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