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5 Steps for Choosing Online Visual Arts Schools

The pressure to choose the right college can be paralyzing. There are so many good online visual arts schools out there that making a decision about which one to go to can immobilize you. Move forward with the decision by considering the following five steps for selecting the right program.

1. List Your Expectations

The first thing that you want to do is to look at the basics that you should expect of any good visual arts schools. All of the online colleges should have the following key features:

  • A good reputation in the arts industry
  • Faculty with industry experience
  • Access to the latest technology (via software or local campus access)
  • Opportunities to network with visual artists in the field
  • Internship and job placement assistance

Look for a school that is going to help you to build up your own portfolio while also helping you network within the art business.

2. Choose a Degree Program

After you’ve narrowed down the options with step one, you’re ready to consider some of the finer details. For example, what type of visual arts do you want to pursue? Choose a school that offers your specialty such as fine arts or computer animation. Also consider whether you want a two-year, four-year or advanced degree. Finally, consider whether you are better suited to a free-range, creative program that you direct yourself or to a more structured set of classes.

3. Determine the Cost of Attending Visual Arts School Online

Before you choose your online school for visual arts, you want to look at what it’s going to cost you. Make sure that you don’t just look at the cost of attending classes. An online school for visual arts requires students to pay additional fees for software, books and art materials. Get an approximate total cost to attend for a more accurate comparison between schools.

4. Check Out Your Financial Aid Options

Merely knowing the cost of the school isn’t all, though. Make sure that you have a budgeted plan in place for paying for school. Keep in mind that the annual median income for a visual arts career (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) was $44,160 in 2009. The International Game Developers Association reports a slightly higher income between $57,000 and $68,000. Your school payment plan should factor in this typical post-graduate salary.

How does this relate to choosing a school? You want to make sure that you select a school that provides access to low-interest financial aid loans as well as grant money and scholarships. Remember that the National Endowment for the Arts does offer grants. You may even want to look for an online visual arts school that has part-time online work for you as a student.

5. Check the Accreditation of Your Online Visual Arts School

Before you sign on the dotted line, double check that the school is accredited. Accredited schools are typically more credible, making it easier for you to get a job after you graduate.