Parallel Plans

Given that VCU’s School of the Arts is the largest publicly-funded school of the arts in the country, and that they boast several top ten ranked programs, no one should be surprised that there isn’t room for every student who simply wants to declare a major. I’m writing today for those who are now feeling various amounts of anxiety over having not been accepted into your desired program for fall. I want to encourage you to see your academic advisor before you make any lasting decisions (this is not a time for rash behavior;) I also wanted to make some general observations in the hope that they might “sand down the edge” on those anxieties you’re feeling.

We like to encourage the idea of having parallel plans in case your initial path, for whatever reason, becomes less of an option for your educational career. Bear in mind that the decision you’ve recently received is simply intended to indicate that there is not a place for you in the requested program for the approaching term—it’s not a judgment of you as an artistic individual and shouldn’t be viewed as a suggestion that an artistic life is not an option for you. If photography is your bag, for example, have you considered how you might use a career in journalism to pay your bills while allowing your artistry to exist free of commercial restraints? Nor can I count on both my hands the number of visual artists I know who have careers in fields other than their artistic medium but still hang their work in galleries (and sell it off those same walls) on a regular basis. In the end, the most important thing you can bear in mind is that today, there is only one fewer option open to you than you had yesterday.

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About Art

I've been a higher education professional for over 15 years and an Academic Advising administrator for the past eight of those. I have a background in exploratory student advising and have spent a great deal of time guiding students through contemplating their personal college-to-career pathways. I've published, presented, and consulted on the intersection of social media and academia and am a firm believer in social media's power as a tool for engagement rather than solely information delivery. I've worked at public and private institutions as well as 2-year colleges and 4-year universities. I believe in Academic Advising as a teaching and learning activity, that learner-centered education is the key to students' academic success, and that as long as we keep students' individual goals and success at the center of our decision-making process, the problem of college-level student attrition can be solved.
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