Good Enough

A high school junior I know wants desperately to attend an art school.  Recently he asked me, “How do I know if I’m good enough?”

“Show your work to a teacher.” I said.  “To someone who’s good at what they do.  Someone who’s not related to you. Someone who knows you, but maybe doesn’t love you.  Ask that person if your art is good.  “Maybe that person will talk about your art.

Maybe she’ll encourage you to experiment with color.  Or maybe she’ll say ‘I like the way your sketches are composed,’ or ‘your photography is stronger than your sculpture.’  If she talks about your work, take that as a good sign and move forward toward art school.

“But if she talks about your personality, go slower.  If she says ‘I think you’ll want to be more disciplined in your work habits,’ or ‘Maybe you should focus more on meeting deadlines,’ then she’s talking about the kind of person you are, the kind of habits you have.  Even a high-dollar art college is unlikely to change those sorts of things.”

That distinction may also be helpful as families survey prospective schools.  Which colleges boast of award-winning student work?  Of internships and job placement?  Those schools may be very different from the ones which promote a safe campus, a satisfying college experience, or the sort of person you might become there.  Yes, it ought to be a false choice, but it isn’t.  Schools set priorities — some motivated by dollars, others by mission.

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