Is going to art school worth it?


Generally speaking, I’ve gotten a lot of support regarding my college plans, but sometimes after telling people my plan is to go to art school I get a response along the lines of “have fun couch-surfing.” Contrary to popular belief, attending art school after graduating is just as reliable a path as any other university. Historically, degrees in the arts have been the lowest paying- but that may no longer be true. Along with recent technological advances comes the demand for more animation, graphics, etc. as everything is now on a screen.

Art school is about networking above all else. Although there are other benefits, such as getting a Bachelor in the Fine Arts (BFA) rather than a Bachelor in the Arts (BA), the most important benefit is to gain some connections. Internships with large companies are offered to students at most art schools, and almost all professors are still working in the field as well. These are all professional connections and ins to help students reach their first job.

As far as the degree goes, a Fine Arts degree is different than an Arts degree in that there is a greater amount of studio time required for the former. This grants a larger opportunity to build experience in the studio, which is more attractive to employers. . In art schools, there are majors just as in any other university, including painting, animation, illustration, graphic design, printmaking, sculpture, installation, etc. BFAs provide an opportunity for artists to become very specialized in their work.

It’s expensive but no more expensive than a private university. According to College board, the average net cost at private universities is $32,410, whereas a public would be $23,890 out of state. Since going to art schools are usually private universities without tax payer benefits, the average costs of art school is around $30,000. These figures are inclusive of both tuition and fees, and account for the cost of supplies. Of course it seems ridiculous to pay ten thousands of dollars per year to go to school to study illustration (or any other art form for that matter), but art school is also superior to self-study in the arts because art it offers business classes designed for artists. In my perspective, college is not worth the price it costs because it renders most students in debt afterwards. However, art school is the same as academic university in that respect; art school isn’t any less worth the money than any other college degree if you are getting a career you enjoy out of it.

Perhaps those that go to art school do not obtain as well rounded an education as those at a regular university. This may be true, but is not necessarily negative for an artist; employers want those who are specialized at their job 100%, rather than intermediate in multiple things. All that an employer wants of an artist is for them to be great at what they do, and majoring in art at a regular university may not prove that of you as an artist.

Ultimately it all comes down to the effort one puts into their college experience. If a lot of time and effort is invested into learning and preparing for the professional world, better results will always come back to you. A current student at the School of Visual Arts New York, Chris Cuthrell, summed it up best by stating, “it depends- with good work ethic you’ll go above and beyond, especially with critique from teachers and peers.” It’s a little bit idealistic, but the verdict here is to take that risk.