With taking the SAT, filling out the common app, writing essays and collecting recommendation letters, the to-do list of applying to college never seems to end. But what if students want to pursue a major in the art field such as film, theatre or music? In that case portfolios, auditions and additional applications get added to the to-do list on top of all the regular university applications. So is all this added stress really worth the reward?
“The stress of creating a separate portfolio has definitely been worth the reward because it has exposed me to a wide variety of styles of art and I have attained a better understanding of the type of art that interests me,” said senior Sydney Sins, who is planning on pursuing a major or minor in the art field.
Each university’s application is different based off of what that particular college program is looking for and how competitive it is to get into.
“For each school, there was a different audition process. For example, some required that I audition in person, while others just wanted me to send in a video of my dancing. Each in person audition was also very different. For a few of them, I came in at a specified time and performed my solo for them, and then answered a few questions to a board of judges” said senior Katherine Wong who will be majoring in dance.
Additionally, prospective students have to evaluate what type of degree they want to earn. Typically, universities offer two types of performing and visual art degrees: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A). B.F.A degree programs offer more rigorous training and intensive coursework that is specialized for a student’s major, while the B.A. is not as intense and focuses on the art in a more general context.
“Schools I did apply to did depend on the dance programs. The dance major is a very competitive major depending on the school you apply to. All of the dance departments I auditioned for had a very tough competition, and I find myself very fortunate enough to have been accepted to many of them” said Wong.
Because B.A programs are not as intensive, they work well for students who want to add a second major in another area of study. Most liberal arts colleges offer both degree options, while conservatory style schools only offer the B.F.A.
“I have always enjoyed creating art. I decided I wanted to pursue art as a potential double major or minor this year after talking with Mrs. Purdy and Mrs. Ford,” said Sins. “My current intended major is Marketing and I think that an art degree will enhance my business degree. The two complement each other well because art and design are big factors in marketing.”.
Supplemental art applications can require extra recommendation letters or essays and portfolios of previous work. Whether it be creating a graphic design portfolio, memorizing a monologue, or choreographing a dance solo, starting early in order to put together extra application materials is key.
“For LMU, I had made a video in October, so I basically cut it down to be under two minutes and then submitted that as a visual sample to show that I have experience with cinematography and editing and all that,” said senior Lexy Catipon, who will be majoring in film production. “Then for Chapman I was asked to write [a film script].”
Of course, with great reward comes great risks. The common stereotype among art majors is that they will have difficulty finding jobs and, when they do land a job, it pays little money. Some argue that activities like painting or playing an instrument are just hobbies and should not be considered professionally. However, performing, visual, and fine arts courses inspire creativity, instill discipline, encourage collaboration, and teach students how to take and grow from criticism.
“The stereotype that ’artists make no money’ does concern me, but art is something I really enjoy and appreciate. In addition, there are many different applications for art in everyday life that I don’t really think it will be an issue,” said Sins.
“For me, I never considered success as making lots of money. Instead, I wanted to have a successful life in which I was happy and doing what I love, which is dance. That is what I consider success. Being a dancer for more than half of my life, I am aware of how tough this industry can be. I have already experienced a numerous amounts of rejections, and know that there are many more to come in this industry” added Wong.
Although adding more work on top of students’ already busy schedules may seem frustrating, and, at times outsiders may not approve pursuing art, following a passion is most important.
“I feel like I am my best self when I am a filmmaker,” said Catipon. “I want to invest my college career into something that I will put hard work and effort into and will be really passionate about as opposed to following a major that wasn’t really meant for me.”
The verdict? Yes, adding extra applications is time consuming and stressful, but at the end of the day what you major in will affect how you spend the rest of your life. Working hard now paves the way for success in the future.