Surviving Art School: What You Can Do as a Student

Art school is diverse and can include anything from dancing to painting, making the environment around it volatile and unpredictable—and because of this, surviving throughout the process can be challenging for most students. However, it is doable.

Whether you’re taking dance classes as an elective course or focusing on digital art, the following are practical tips for students to survive in art school.

Work with Other Students

One of the best parts of being in art school is being surrounded by like-minded individuals, whether they’re students like you or experienced professors and instructors. Many art students make the mistake of working on their projects or homework by themselves, making you lag behind others and slack off. Instead of tackling everything by yourself, grab your art materials and make a plan to meet with your classmates and other peers in the studio and work together. Doing this can help you stay motivated and stay focused. Plus, it gives you a chance to ask and get immediate feedback and support, allowing you to make any necessary changes as you progress with your work.

Choose Classes Based on the Professor

Most students would likely choose their elective courses based on the subject, thinking that it piques their interest, they’re guaranteed to have a fantastic experience in class. However, no matter how much you like the course, if the teacher can’t relay the right information or have the passion as you, it can make the subject tedious or downright “dull.” For instance, if you’re interested in earning a Bachelor’s degree in Fine arts and major in dance and you want to take elective courses for contemporary dancing, see if the instructor is capable before you go and apply for it. The same principle goes for other majors and elective courses.

young adults hanging out

Look at Other Students’ Works

Make it a habit to go to student exhibitions or watch the latest dance recitals on campus, or expose yourself to as much student work you can. Doing this helps broaden your knowledge and skills as it lets you see from a wide range of approaches—making art school more navigable and enjoyable for you.

Communicate with Professors

Although it may seem daunting, it’s best to talk with professors or instructors when you have concerns about anything related to school. Most professors and instructors respect students that take the initiative to start a conversation, so if you’re ever wondering what your academic standing is in class or how your projects are doing, don’t hesitate and ask them. If you don’t want your peers to hear about your concerns, you can also request a private ‘talk’ with your instructor or professors outside the classroom.

Letting your instructors and professors know about your concerns early on can help provide the necessary accommodations you may need during the semester.

Begin Early and Spread Out Work for Several Days

Doing marathon work sessions a couple of nights before the deadline or the night before the actual due date is one of the worst moves any student can make as it often results in sloppy output and low grades, which isn’t ideal in any school. It’s best to start early and spread out your work over several days to help you stay on track while getting enough rest. It lets you make daily progress and gives you plenty of time to evaluate your work with fresh eyes.

Learn How to Accept Criticism

Make sure to separate yourself from your work or performance, and don’t take other people’s criticism personally. Keep in mind that when people give their opinion, it’s a critique of your work and not you. You’ll experience this plenty of times throughout art school, so toughen up and make use of other’s criticism, whether it’s good or bad, to improve your skills.

Form Lasting Relationships

Although art school is all about learning and expressing yourself, the people are the ones who really make a ‘school.’ That’s because even if you’re the most talented student around or have access to modern facilities and equipment, none of that can help you through art school if you don’t have a community of students, staff, and faculty around you. So, it’s best to communicate and connect with your peers to increase your chances of surviving art school and success.

Whether you’re majoring in dancing, sculpting, painting, or acting, art school can be challenging, especially when different types of upcoming artists surround you—but following the tips mentioned can help you survive the hardships in art school regardless of your major.

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