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Art School Applications Increase Despite Limited Job Prospects

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
May 5, 2009

While new art school graduates anxiously brace themselves for a severely limited job market, applications to art schools are on the rise.

The Washington Post reports that according to the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, applications to more than 30 private art schools rose 5 to 10 percent from 2002 to 2007. Additionally, Washington's Corcoran College of Art and Design received 100 more applications this year-the most significant rise in a decade.

But some seniors are expressing regret about their career choice. "I don't think I personally thought it all through," said Lindsay Perkins, a senior at Corcoran. "To some extent, I regret it. I don't know how to put it. I don't regret following my dreams, but maybe I regret the way I went about it. I didn't really set myself up for any place in society."

Perkins studies print- and screenmaking, and her school's annual tuition is $27,000-a price her parents in North Carolina have paid by selling stock and withdrawing money from a 401(k) account. But she is unsure how her acquired skills will help her find a stable job at a time when so many are flocking towards degrees in government and healthcare.

Nevertheless, Alabama's the TimesDaily reports that many students are still applying to art schools. "I want my students to find their passion, whatever that may be," explained Jerry Foster, an art teacher at Florence High School who commented on 10 students' acceptances into the Savannah College of Art and Design. "I try to remind parents that there are thousands of jobs in art and that it truly isn't limited. . . . This is an extremely prestigious school, and there's an 85 percent rate of employment among its students within six months of graduation."

The rise of applications to art school is not unlike similar surges of interest in journalism, law and business schools--all fields which have taken a beating by the economic downturn. Experts explain that the overall trend reflects a desire for students to seek a haven from the recession, hoping by the time they graduate, more jobs will be available. Others point out that since job opportunities are scarce, many are taking the opportunity to pursue their passions until the economy rebounds.

Some schools are responding to the tough job market by adding business courses to their curriculums. Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism recently announced plans to teach business skills as part of its program, and Dennis O'Neil, chairman of Corcoran's fine arts department, is considering starting a course that will teach art students self-marketing skills.

"Knowing how to write a grant, how to talk to a curator, how to put together an exhibition, how to write and speak about it-these skills are critical for an artist," he told The Post. "But somehow we haven't done it...Now we're putting it in place."

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