Art Schools, Applications and Planning for Life after High School

Spring 2018

miaMia has worked with Methow Arts for her Junior and Senior high school years as an Intern. She will graduate from Liberty Bell High School in Winthrop, WA this June. Here she shares about applying to Art Schools, sharing her journey with other students who may pursue Art after high school.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman with a thirst for art and adventure must be in want of an urban art school experience. This was true, in my case.From the beginning, my dreams of hitting the big city were large and unparalleled. I envisioned being a well-dressed, sophisticated, and successful artist. I’d be living in my chic dorm room and laugh with elegance with a cappuccino in my hand. All the while conversing with equally well-dressed friends.

For me, the goal was always the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD,) the Mecca for aspiring artists. The school exists as the “Ivy league of art schools.” As like most young perfectionists, I set my sights on the top and refused to acknowledge anything lesser than that of the RISD experience. If I got into RISD, I’d know that I had made it, and that I was worthy.


IMG_0204-2Fast forward three years, and I am sixteen. I have experienced a wave of crippling doubt about my artistic ability. The remote possibility of getting into RISD has fallen off my radar, and into a wastebasket of lost goals. Of course, I didn’t give up on art. Art was an intrinsic part of who I was and am. I began to look at more realistic schools for myself; such as The Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, The Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and so on.

The first step in my application journey was to attend the National Portfolio Day in Seattle. This extravaganza is at its most basic form a college fair for artists. That January day I took my portfolio around to about four different schools, hoping for affirmation and constructive feedback. Luckily enough, I received both. The most common piece of advice I got was that I needed to break out of my bubble a bit, and become a little more experimental and less safe. Art schools are looking for people who can transcend from technical skill into conceptual understanding. With that experience under my belt, I began to prepare for the grueling task of applying to colleges. When applying to an Arts’ field, you not only have to include your transcripts, essays, and what-nots, but a cohesive portfolio ranging from 12-20 pieces that exhibits your best work.

(Mia Stratman’s Holding Precious, 5”x7”. India Ink & Watercolor.)

As of January 7th, I have submitted every one of my applications. I applied to six renowned art schools across the country, and so far I have heard from five, and gotten into five! I am still waiting to hear from one, The Rhode Island School of Design. Dreams are worth pursuing. I’ve come to realize that it is completely plausible that I could get in, and it’s possible I get rejected. Yet, I’m okay with the logic of it.

Throughout this unique application process, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people going through the same steps. Talking to these young students, I get the sense that I have met my people, found my niche, if you will. That doubt about my artist ability has subsided a little, and know I am a worthy artist.

When I look back over the past ten years, and look at my growth as an artist and a person, I feel grateful. With all the nerve wracking, vulnerable, intimidating situations I’ve put my art and myself in, I would not have it any other way. I’ve seen myself blossom as an artist. As I take this next step into my life, readiness replaces trepidation. I’m scared, sure, that’s a no brainer. However, if my experience from shy caterpillar to blooming artist butterfly can inspire someone else to follow their young dream of being their best self, I’ll be content. Art is worth sharing and experiencing and I will be preaching that sentiment to anyone that will listen.