If you are thinking about pursuing a career in art and design, or picking up some specific skills, there are multiple paths you can choose from. Here are five of those options:
1. Independent art/design schools
2. Art/Design departments affiliated with colleges and universities
3. Two-year community colleges
4. Classes offered by adult education programs
5. Tutorials and self-guided instruction in books, magazines and websites
We have already discussed Independent art/design schools as well as art/design departments in colleges and universities. You can read those discussions here and here. Today we turn our attention to two-year community colleges and adult education programs.
Two-year community colleges are great resources for individuals who want introductory information about art and design. Most community colleges offer preliminary classes in arts and sciences that are roughly equivalent to what beginning students get at four-year schools. Credit for that coursework can then be applied to an undergraduate degree program at most state supported colleges and universities. The art and design classes most commonly offered at community colleges include an introductory survey lecture, two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, beginning sculpture, beginning painting and beginning drawing.
In addition to offering introductory courses with credits that are transferrable to four-year schools, community colleges serve the public by scheduling classes during off-peak hours and in the evening. This flexible scheduling benefits people who work during the day or who have other obligations. If you are currently working full-time and that keeps you from pursuing art classes, your local community college may have just what you are looking for at a time when you are free.
Although community colleges are generally known for their introductory classes, some larger community colleges offer a fairly wide range of art classes. Some have craft-based studio classes that are rare even for private art schools or large university art departments. You might find classes as diverse and specialized as lapidary, raku, calligraphy, leather craft or silk-screen printing on t-shirts. These specialty classes might be just what you are looking for and they might serve as your entry into the world of fine art and design.
Generally speaking, community colleges are smaller than most four-year colleges and universities. They usually have more limited resources but they offer a “student friendly” environment. It is hard to get lost on a community college campus and it is easy to know most of your classmates and instructors.
Community colleges usually have less expensive tuition and they often have more available space for incoming students.
Adult education programs also offer specialized courses in the evenings and on weekends. These programs usually have specific classes for specific needs – not generalized programs for transfer credit. Here you can find classes in topics such as Photoshop basics, woodworking, stained glass, and the fundamentals of digital photography. If you are looking for specific information, or you merely want to have a “one night a week” experience with art and design, adult education programs might be just what you are looking for.
Adult education is usually offered by local public school districts. A telephone call to their main office, or a visit to their website, should let you know how to get course listings with a time and fee schedule.
An interesting characteristic of both community colleges and adult education programs is the wide range of their students’ ages, experiences and interests. If you are older than the average college student and you think your age and life experiences might keep you from blending in at a typical college level class, look closely at what your local community college or adult education program has to offer. I suspect you will find people there who are just like you.
In our final installment we will discuss the world of tutorials and self-guided instruction.