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What Fine/Performing Artists Need to Know About Applying to College

While fine arts students need to be equipped to handle the academics of any college that accepts them, getting into many fine arts programs will turn on your talent as evidenced in a portfolio or by an audition. If you want to be an art, dance, music, theater, or film major, be prepared for the extra work involved in applying. For those students who will need to audition, find out whether you must go in person or if some or all of the colleges you are applying to will accept a videotaped audition. Sign up for slots as soon as possible and pay close attention to coordinating auditions dates across schools. If a portfolio is required, be aware of each school's specifications and deadlines. Maximize your chances of success in applying to a competitive arts program by doing the following:

  • Use your high school years to gain experience and confidence in your art. Take advantage of any classes your school offers, enroll in outside courses, and take private lessons. Find other opportunities to expand your experience by participating in regional or state groups or programs. For example, if music is your passion, join a local or state youth orchestra to give you a wider scope of performance opportunities and/or chances to compete.

  • If you are a visual artist, start to amass your portfolio early. Collecting a variety of your drawings, paintings, photographs, etc. will allow you to select from a wide range of work and curate a portfolio specific to particular schools.

  • Get a realistic assessment from an expert in the field. Professional feedback can help you determine which college programs you are most likely to be accepted to.

  • Check each college's admissions requirements carefully in terms of both the content they are asking for and the options for submission.

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