In many ways you would approach this selection process like you would for any other college. We recommend that at minimum, you consider the following criteria:
Curriculum - Will the coursework lead you toward acquiring specific employable skills that art and design type employers are looking for? Is the curriculum in-depth enough to challenge you and help develop your art skills? Does the school involve industry in the development of its programs?
Instructors – Do the instructors on faculty have depth and have they done things that you dream of doing someday? Are they industry veterans with years of experience in the areas you are interested in?
Campus - Are the studios, labs and classrooms well maintained and is the equipment up-to-date and the type you’d find in industry? Is the local environment one in which you will thrive creatively?
Employment Services - Does the school have an Employment Services department that will help you in your search for employment in your chosen career after you graduate? Do they have a deep reach into the market you want to work in? What are the employment rates of prior classes and do they break it down by program area?
Reputation – Does the college have a solid reputation in the industry? What type of employers recruit from the school? What have past graduates gone on to accomplish? Are there current testimonials from prior graduates in the program that you’re interested in?
Tuition - Can you afford the cost of tuition, books and supplies? Factor in any other costs that you will encounter like relocating, housing, food/clothing, transportation, and other similar items.
Accreditation - This is an important consideration when choosing the right art school. Accreditation means the school has voluntarily submitted itself to and met all of the criteria as determined by the regulatory body. Most of these reviews are based on some level of peer review of its educational standards.
Get to know them personally
Learn as much as you can about each school that looks promising. Request a brochure, review their website, read up on them in any way you can. Prepare a checklist of questions or concerns you may have and use it for all the schools you’re interested in. That way you’re applying the same objective criteria to all of them.
Visit the campus
When you’ve narrowed your list down a little of potential art and design schools, make plans to visit the campuses. Talk with the instructors, as well as current students. Get a sense of whether students are really engaged and happy. Visit the campus gallery and review the student’s work. Look into classrooms, studios and labs and get a sense of whether you’d be conformable in them. Look at the equipment in the labs. A personal visit will show you things you can’t see in the brochure or on their website and can often be the deciding factor.
A final word of advice
While employment rates are a good indicator of the quality of the school it shouldn’t be your only consideration. At the end of the day, getting a job comes down to you and how you’ll fit into the employer’s team and the quality of your portfolio and strength of your artistic skills.
These are a few Canadian art and design school recommendations:
- The Art Institute of Vancouver
- Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts)