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Specialized Schools vs. Public Universities

After high school many students attend college. The total enrollment of college students between fall 2018 and 2027 is expected to increase to 20.5 million, says the National Center for Education Statistics. Most public universities have a variety of majors that are adequate for what people want to study. Iowa State University offers roughly 120 different majors, and Mizzou has about 175.

Whether those be nursing, education or law, most of these programs give quality education; however, for people studying in the arts, it is a more tedious search to find a school with a good enough program.

With this in mind, I decided to think about art school. Art institutes offer a larger variety of art majors, such as furniture design, sound or art and technology. They are focused on the arts apart from a public university, typically a regular public university will not have a world renowned fine arts program. Art schools offer more classes such as animation, neon sign making, costume design and a lot more. However the campuses of art schools are small and lacks student diversity.

The number of jobs in an art field is scarce as it is. The unemployment rate for graduates is 9.1 percent, says Artnet News. Attending a regular university with only several different options as an art major does not guarantee a successful career as most other majors.

At School of the Art Institute of Chicago about 32 majors are all art based. It has only a few buildings in the middle of the city of Chicago. This, for one thing, is pretty intimidating to go from a medium sized college town in Missouri to one of the biggest cities in the United States. Visiting SAIC was bittersweet. It was a really cool school, but I couldn’t help but to feel like there was something missing. Growing up in Tiger Nation, I was expecting college to also have football games, millions of weird clubs, campus special events, big lecture halls and meeting all kinds of people in all kinds of different majors. 

At art school everyone is doing the same thing but in different ways. There are so many opportunities to express myself creatively and independently with smaller class sizes and the chance to rent out rooms for work, but there are no opportunities to widen my range of study. At a regular university I can double major in art and science with a minor in a foreign language, but at an art school I may build my degree how I want but it is still counted as a bachelor of fine arts.

It is also a fact that most students change their degree at least three different times, says Borderzine. At an art school it would be difficult if I decided environmental science is my passion and yet I am only offered sculpting and painting. I also have to compete to be different in a crowd of people who are doing the same thing.

Art is a complicated major. In order to have some sort of chance of success I have to be different, and at SAIC I felt intimidated and like I wasn’t special from the other students. Attending a normal university would give me the resources I need to find myself while getting my degree in case I change my mind on where I want to go in the future and better prepare me for success.

During my process for searching for a college I also started to learn more about what my passions are and what I need to prioritize in order to have a career I enjoy in the future. I have found that sustainability and environmental science really interests me. It gives me more of a sense of purpose as if I could do something very impactful to the world someday.

Of course, I wouldn’t want to completely forget about art. Art has always been one of my passions ever since I could hold a utensil. I’ve worked so hard to perfect my skill and yet there is still more room for improvement. Finding a job that can combine art and science is difficult, but I do feel there is a lack of awareness for what artist can contribute to society.

Attending a public university such as Iowa State is giving me the chance to combine these seemingly unrelated majors into one so I can pursue my dream career. Part of me wishes I could go to art school and become an artist. But the lack of pay and guarantee of a job has made me think more about what I want to do. With a career in environmental science, I believe I will have a better sense of fulfillment and can better contribute to society.

What do you think about art schools vs. regular schools?

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