This year I just went through the college process. I have never felt so stressed, sad, or pressured in my life. Now the college process is different for everyone, but this is my story.
My mom and I always knew that since I was in fifth grade my career was going to be in art. This is why my very first college tour was my freshman year in High School at Ringling College of Art + Design in Florida. The college was amazing, the studios were beautiful, the rooms were very pretty, the cafeteria looked like it served good food and the school was just a few minutes away from the beach. The perfect college in my eyes back then to a girl who just turned fifteen. But then I heard about the tuition and I was calculating in my head room, board, books, art supplies, transportation etc. It occurred to me that if I wanted to go to a college like Ringling then I would have to work extra hard in school.
Before senior year my mom and I continued to do college tours all over the country, planning very carefully what would be the cheapest and most convenient time of the year. In four years I was able to take tours at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rhode Island School of Design, Alfred University, Savannah College of Art + Design, Maryland Institute College of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, SUNY Purchase, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Columbia College Chicago, Massachusetts College of Art + Design, Hampshire College etc. Before College I was also able to do the Pre-College program at Academy Art University before Junior year and the Pre-College program at Rhode Island School of Design. These experiences really helped with my final decision.
During the college process I was getting help prom Options For College, a college counseling service that specializes in helping student get into and get the most out of college. I could not have gotten into 13 out of 13 colleges without their help, plus the scholarship money I received from many of my schools.
The toughest part of the college process for me was choosing which college I should go to, where would I be most successful? In the end I choose Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). I knew going into college that I wanted to be a painting major. I tried web design, graphic design, photography, printmaking, film, sound, set construction, fashion, illustration etc. But I always came back to painting. PAFA was not big and fancy with their technology, but kept to their fine art roots. The school is very small and with the Undergrad and Graduate students combined there is only a student population of 300. Because of this I knew that the teachers would give me that one on one attention I crave. PAFA is also very close to my family, its in a city so I won’t get bored, there are other colleges in the neighborhood, food is amazing in Philly, everyone there is very nice, housing seems cool and very independent, I can take classes at University of Pennsylvania and I heard that PAFA really helps students with a plan to pay off their loans.
– Start the college process EARLY even if you feel it might scare your kid, because it will give them a goal to focus on and start thinking about the future.
– Take your tours now, it will help you get the vibe of each campus. Plus the tour process should not be rushed, it would just put more pressure on your kid.
– Make sure your child doesn’t screw up freshman year high school because that can bring their average down by about 10 points.
– Do pre-college programs almost all colleges have them, you get to really know the school, know what college might feel like (independence), and its an amazing experience. (Many pre-college programs do offer scholarship and/or financial aid)
– Options for College is an amazing service and their services are international. Plus they would be doing a talk at the Yale Club September 10th for FREE. (Just saying the food is amazing). For more
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