After performing in the annual student choreography showcase, Monique Lonergan, '19, (center, third from left) gestures for her classmate to bow. (Photo courtesy of Lonergan)
Although Naify said she loves SCAD’s career-focused nature, she added that she would love to take foreign language courses. Since these classes are offered as electives, students can take them for only a few quarters, which doesn’t facilitate fluency, according to Naify.
“At a lot of liberal arts schools, you can study things way outside your major that have nothing in common with it. Here, if I took a class that was outside my major, it would still be an art course,” Naify said. “If you’re exploring other interests, they’re going to be other art-related interests. It’s very, very, very focused.
“(The general education classes) are technically normal classes, but the way they’re taught is very different because they know we’re a bunch of artists. It’s pretty clear that they only have them to keep the school accredited.”
In her 10-week-long English class, Naify said she wrote just one essay and added that all projects related to art, such as writing an artist bio and presenting on an artist. A class’s rigor largely depends on its professor, she said, as her friend took an essay-heavy English class. Furthermore, her “super, super basic” math course covered eighth grade-level material, according to Naify.
In contrast, Hilton said her liberal arts classes at SCAD have been just as hard as her art classes, with enthusiastic professors as well. In fact, she said anthropology was among her favorites.
Unlike Hilton and Naify, art major Sophie Naylor, ’19, didn’t consider art schools in her college applications. She attends the College of Creative Studies (CCS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) along with 384 other students, five of whom are freshman art majors.
“I am exposed to so many other topics and lifestyles besides an artistic environment,” Naylor said. “I am also interested in environmental sciences, and that program is really strong at UCSB, so I (can) easily access other departments that have nothing to do with art. If I were only looking to focus on art, then UCSB (College of) Letters and Science’s art program would be a bad idea, but CCS allows for as much focus on art as desired while also letting students branch out and explore.”
In the first-quarter art show, Sophie Naylor, '19, along with her five fellow CCS freshmen art majors, was allotted one wall to present her works. (Photo courtesy of Naylor)
Among her perks as a CCS student are separate dorms, access to both CCS and UCSB classes, priority registration for classes, unlimited printing and, by next year, a private studio in the CCS building.
“I get the best of both worlds since I have small classes but am a part of a larger school community,” Naylor said. “CCS is a more one-on-one experience. We get much more mentorship and attention individually in class. We are able to work on whatever we like and guide our own studies and art practices. The rest of UCSB (students) may experience mostly large lecture halls and teachers who don’t know your name, but at CCS you work with your teacher, not for your teacher.”
With its “homey” atmosphere and supportive community, CCS feels similar to Country Day, according to Naylor.
“Teachers and students are as close as we are at Country Day, and I am constantly surrounded by smart people,” she said. “No one ever feels competitive with one another, either, since everyone has their specialty.”
Because RISD and Boston Conservatory students can cross-register for classes at Brown University and Emerson College, respectively, Mathisen and Lonergan can take traditional liberal arts courses, which removes what is seen as the downside of art schools, according to Mathisen.
“Being passionate about every single class I’m in (wouldn’t) be possible at a liberal arts school,” Mathisen said. “There are things that I can find in every class I’m in that I can dedicate myself to (and) fully enjoy. I’ve never been much of a writer, but here it seems like every class is catered toward somebody who’s more (visually) creative, so it really fits the students.
“I cannot even imagine going to a liberal arts college. My art classes are extremely long, but I genuinely love it. It’s really great (that) each day I just focus on one thing. And working creatively 24/7 is impossible to replicate anywhere else for me.”
In an installation by Bella Mathisen, '19, for her spatial dynamics class, participants watch this stop-motion film while sitting in a bean bag chair resembling the blobs in the film. "The stop motion is about my personal network," she said. "Each blob is representative of someone specific in my network and how lucky I am to have this support. The idea is that you sit in the sculpture that resembles the small sculptures in the video, and the big one hugs you." (Video courtesy of Mathisen)
Hilton said SCAD has also been an incredibly positive academic experience for her.
“I love that I am passionate about what I do,” she said. “I’m driven, and I care about succeeding and doing well.
“All throughout my time at Country Day (I) struggled — I mean constantly getting C’s and failing tests. I was always surrounded by people that I felt were so much smarter and better than me.
“Coming to SCAD and getting to not only be passionate about what I do, but to be succeeding in it is amazing.”
If SCAD students aren’t driven, Naify said they’ll likely drop out.
“It is a little similar to Country Day in that way, where everyone is really motivated to be here, and if they’re not, then they’re not going to last,” she said. “I had some friends that already left.
“It is a little similar to Country Day in that way, where everyone is really motivated to be here, and if they’re not, then they’re not going to last. I had some friends that already left.” —Grace Naify
“(At) Country Day, you’re pushed every day to work super hard, and your grade and what you’re doing in school matters to you and tends to be really exciting — that’s how it is here as well. So that’s been really nice, and it really helps me stay focused.”
Bella Mathisen, '19, created this piece for her design class. (Photo courtesy of Mathisen)
SCAD’s intensity and collaborative nature surprised Hilton, she said.
“Every project I’ve done I have collaborated with people inside and outside my major,” Hilton said. “I’ve worked with photographers for photoshoots, interior designers for shop renderings, graphic design majors for logos, etc. SCAD forces students to collaborate with each other, which is great because that’s what it is like in the industry.”
While SCAD’s emphasis on career readiness helps, Hilton said she stresses about employment after graduation.
“There is a ton of anxiety and pressure to get a job before I graduate, and it is something I am struggling with right now,” she said.
“SCAD does help a ton with this, however: We have a site through our school that posts jobs that we can apply to, and lots of companies will come to SCAD for in-person interviews. I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of interviews already because of SCAD.”
SCAD has a good track record for post-graduation employment, contrary to stereotypes of “starving artists,” according to Hilton.
“(A) misconception is that everyone that goes to an art school is going to be a starving artist,” she said. “I remember a (teacher) at Country Day made that comment to me when I got accepted. It was in a joking way, but (it was) hurtful all the same.
“It just isn’t true — 98% of SCAD graduates get jobs in their field by six months after graduating. It’s ridiculous people still think that way because if we were to take away everything that art majors are involved in, you’d be staring at a blank wall. Every piece of clothing you buy — someone designed it. Every company logo you see — somebody designed it. Every piece of furniture, every blanket, every show you watch or magazine you read — that came from the arts. Without the arts there would be no form of entertainment, and I think people forget that.”
“(A) misconception is that everyone that goes to an art school is going to be a starving artist. It just isn’t true. Without the arts there would be no form of entertainment, and I think people forget that.” —Elinor Hilton