So you decided to go to art school. Good for you! The next few years will be the time of your life — different, yet similar to every other college experience you could have chosen. Whether you’re a fine artist, a commercial artist or a graphic designer, to be an artist you have to be passionate, hard working and creative.
And even though you have all these great qualities, you’re not perfect. Maybe you are like me, a creative fun loving soul — definitely not a whiz kid in math though. Or shy and reserved and terrified of speaking to strangers, let alone a small group of strangers. But don’t fret! Many four-year art schools (and fine arts programs at other schools) require your education to have a foundation in the liberal arts.
Remember college is for learning and no one will expect you to know everything. In art school, we all get a dose of reality within the first few days of Drawing 101: there will probably always be someone better than you at that one skill you crave. So your best bet is to strive to be the well-rounded professional, not just a talented artist. Yes, talented artists land jobs all the time, but having the whole package can really sell you to the employer, donor or grant committee.
I’ve found that most artists tend to be quiet, reserved, out-of-the-box people. This is great, but sometimes it takes a bold, logical person to get things done. And while you can’t re-program your personality, you can use your liberal education credits to help you achieve these skills, so you can at least fake being a stiff, logical, pulpit-preaching CEO.
Taking a basic math (with a little of the dreaded “A” word – algebra!) will spark the logical thinking that you might have pushed aside long ago to nurture your imagination. The basic math at my college covered everything from more practical math, like money, to the basics of algebra. The cool thing about math is that it builds upon itself. There’s no stopping in the middle and back tracking to start completely over – 2+2 will always equal four. That doesn’t change in money, algebra or calculus. And the bonus: you may have already learned a lot of what the class will teach.
Math will help bring back logical thinking to your paint soaked brain. While there is a time and place for dancing rainbow unicorns, there isn’t much use for them when you get out into the work world. Math stands as a reminder that there is a balance to things, that logic is necessary in addition to creativity.
Having a logical train of thought won’t help if you can’t communicate that thought. I will proudly admit that I was terrified of my public speaking course. It was a required course, and I put it off as long as possible. I didn’t take it until my junior year. BIG mistake. Looking back, the confidence I gained in that class could have easily helped me out in numerous presentations in my first two years of college.
I was afraid to get up in front of twenty classmates plus a professor and speak for two minutes, let alone 10. But through a series of small speeches, I did it. I delivered my final speech, and managed to feel comfortable for the full 10 minutes I was up there. The class wasn’t all about getting up in front of each other to yap yap, though.
We learned why we speak publicly. We went over techniques for all sorts of presentations, weddings, job interviews and lectures. My classroom, like many other public speaking classes, was full of shy, quiet people. But through these forced sessions public communication, we learned to find our voices – even if it was only a little bit louder than before.
I credit my public speaking class for getting me a part-time job. I gained so much confidence in that class. After I was hired, I was told that I was picked over another candidate mostly because of the way I spoke during the interview.
So while they seem scary, math and public speaking are some of the best general education classes you could take. If they’re not required at your school for your program, use an elective for it. The skills you learn will be well worth the effort.
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