How to Decide What Creative Arts Program is Right for You

By: Georgia Schumacher

August 18, 2015

Even when you know that you’re destined for a life of creativity, you don’t always know the best way to get there, or even exactly what that life would look like. Individuals who want a creative arts career often start with a creative arts education, but, first, you have to pick a program that’s right for you and your future. So, how do you decide?

1. Think of what excites you.
Make a list of what you enjoy most—including creative projects and activities that make you happy and whatever you do on your own time for fun! Don’t limit yourself to thinking in terms of careers just yet. Love watching movies, playing video games, or creating the perfect outfit for every occasion? Write it all down!

2. Find a pattern.
How closely related are the interests you listed? At The Art Institutes, our programs are grouped into four areas—fashion, design, media arts, and culinary.

Within each of those areas are fields. Fashion and culinary are straightforward. Fashion includes fashion design and fashion marketing, while culinary includes culinary arts and culinary management. Design includes a bit more—advertising, graphic & web design, industrial design, and interior design. Finally, media arts encompasses the most fields, including:

  • Animation
  • Audio Production
  • Digital Film
  • Game Design
  • Game Programming
  • Photography
  • Special Effects

If your interests mostly relate to a particular area, that’s where you should focus. If you’re lucky, you may be able to narrow in on a couple fields you like.

3. Match your interests to careers.

Now, it’s time to consider careers. Start by jotting down jobs you might like related to your area or fields of interest, or even to particular activities within those fields. To get started, search something like “careers involving ____” or “careers in the field of ____.” Eventually, you’ll create a list of careers that sound exciting!

4. Work backwards.
Armed with your list of careers, you can do some detective work to discover what degree is recommended for each career. If you know a professional in a career you’re considering or a similar field, talk to them about their experiences and see what program they’d recommend. If you don’t know anyone to contact, many sites, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics site, provide information on job responsibilities, salary, and recommended education.

On The Art Institutes alumni page, you can search the Alumni Gallery by field of study and see what positions and degrees our graduates hold. At our virtual open houses, you can even hear firsthand from alumni about the path they took to build their creative careers.

5. Dive into the details.
Once you’re only comparing a few programs, find sample program and course descriptions online. Courses and outcomes will vary by school, but you can still get a general idea of what you’d learn. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself drawn to a specific program and you choice will be made obvious.

6. Do a test run.

It’s hard to be sure what you’ll like until you try something yourself. That’s why we recommend taking art classes at your high school, local art organizations, or a nearby creative arts college. Some colleges offer non-credit classes where you can learn about a creative field and even get a taste of college life. For example, The Art Institutes offers College Bound and GETcreative courses, as well as annual summer workshops across the country.

Another great alternative is to find internships, freelance, or volunteer work related to the careers and programs you’re considering.

7. Talk to an expert.
No matter how much research you’ve done, it’s helpful to talk a professional. If you’re a high school student, you can ask your guidance counselor for more information, attend college fairs, or contact a college to speak with representatives who should be experienced at asking the right questions and helping prospective students like you.

If you’re interested in a program at The Art Institutes, contact us today at 1.888.624.0300 or request information here!

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