Do you have what it takes to major in the arts?

Do you have what it takes to major in the performing or visual arts? Ask yourself these 9 questions.

Wondering how you stack up against other college-bound students in the performing and visual arts? We all know how competitive the top-tiered college arts programs can be. The good news is that beyond the most prestigious schools, there is a broad range of highly rated programs to consider — all of which have produced successful graduates in related careers. So what does it take to pursue your field of art (be it dance, music, theater, visual arts, film) in college and beyond? Review the following questions, and begin to uncover the essential requirements for yourself.

1) Does your art invigorate and inspire you? Performing and visual arts students spend countless hours honing their skills and overcoming obstacles. Participation in the arts should be a wondrous path of discovery that you are eager to tackle, despite the challenges it brings. If you don’t relish the process, don’t bother applying.

2) Can you imagine doing anything else? Of course, students are encouraged to have diverse interests, but success in the arts calls for focused passion and perseverance. So just how committed are you?

3) Where do you excel artistically? No doubt that college is a time to explore and develop new skills, but odds are that your innate strengths have brought you to this point. As you search for the right collegiate path, allow your distinctive strong points to come to the forefront and lead the way. If auditioning for a theater program, choose pieces that fit comfortably in your age and type. Focus on pieces that highlight what you already know that you do well. You’ll need to confidently demonstrate your artistic strengths in the audition/portfolio review process.

4) What don’t you do well? Acknowledging your weaknesses is every bit as crucial as knowing your strengths. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling may not be the world’s greatest singers and dancers, but their abilities to command the stage/screen enabled them to bring a differentiated dimension to the Oscar nominated film La La Land. While a school may appreciate your willingness to take risks, they want to see you at your best, not struggling to achieve an artistic feat that is beyond your reach.

5) Do you have a thick skin? Student artists are continuously exposed to various critiques from teachers, peers, and audiences, not to mention a heavy dose of self-criticism. No matter how talented you may be, much of your success will depend on how you deal with internal and external judgment. Along with the growth process of an artist comes growing pains. There are bound to be times when the art you fell in love with suddenly feels like your worst enemy. You won’t always be able to fall back on your talent, but know that it’s all part of the learning and developing process.

6) How eager are you to study your craft? Are you truly open to moving beyond your comfort zone in order to grow and expand your horizons? You must be ready for the challenge. The creation of art frequently demands problem solving and critical thinking skills that will serve you well in your studies and ultimately in your career.

7) What does “making it” as an artist mean to you? This is a personal benchmark. Although many young artists define their future success somewhat narrowly, through prestigious awards and accolades given to nationally or globally recognized artists, you decide for yourself what defines success in the arts. Is it about recognition and prestige? Is it about performing on the world’s great stages? Is it about using art for social justice? Or is it about teaching others? The ways in which artists define success can change over time, and even during college.

8) Do you know your art-related career options? It’s not easy to choose a path without knowing the direction in which it’s heading. You can often find career examples on college websites. Search your specific arts interests as well. Ask teachers and seek advice from other people in the know. You will likely have to work multiple jobs to earn your living, at least initially. So educate yourself: know your options and decide if you have what it takes to pursue your passion, in whatever forms it may take.

9) How far are you willing to go? This refers to dedication as well as distance. Are you willing to push yourself? To take risks? To move away from home? There are excellent programs in many different locations across the country and they come in all shapes and sizes.

If these questions excite you but you still aren’t sure if you have what it takes to get into college, then let ArtsBridge help you find the answers. The ArtsBridge Artistic Assessment places your material in front of top college faculty in your field. You receive pointed, written feedback to let you know where you stand along with helpful suggestions for improvement. You’re invited to contact ArtsBridge college consultants with any questions you have.


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