Students who may be interested in studying the visual or performing arts in college will need to approach the college search and application process a bit differently. Teachers in the arts (at Brimmer and May and outside of school) can often offer valuable advice, as they are usually familiar with specific schools, programs, and faculties at conservatories and colleges. A bookshelf in the College Counseling Office is dedicated to catalogs and CDs from visual and performing arts and architecture programs.
There are several degree options: a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in the arts within a liberal arts curriculum, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree which is for artists and performers and more professionally oriented, a Bachelor of Music Degree for musicians, and a Bachelor's Degree in either Music or Art Education. Careful thought must be given to career goals when deciding which degree to seek. The BFA or BM degree is a more artistically focused and the majority of the courses for the degree will be in either art or music performance with a minimum of general education classes. This type of program is designed to prepare the student for a career in the arts. A BA in music or studio art at a liberal arts college allows (and requires) the student to take classes in many academic disciplines outside of the major.
College vs. Conservatory
Conservatories and art schools typically offer BM or BFA degrees. Students who choose this type of school are preparing for careers in the creative arts. Admission to these schools is usually heavily based on the talent of the student as demonstrated by the portfolio or audition. Some larger colleges and universities offer BFA/BM degrees as well as BA degrees in the arts, offering students more flexibility and choices in curriculum.
Preparing Portfolios and Auditions
In addition to completing a regular college application, students in the visual or performing arts usually need to prepare a portfolio or an audition. Specific information about portfolio/audition requirements are usually posted on the college’s website. Art and architecture students are advised to begin working on their portfolios during junior year. Advanced placement courses in studio art begin in the second semester of the junior year. Work from these courses is geared to filling portfolio requirements. Students preparing for a music, dance, or theatre audition can obtain assistance from teachers in the Creative Arts Department.