You Be You: Transition Tips for High Schoolers Entering College

Your brain is a non-stop idea machine. Your bedroom walls are covered with art you’ve dedicated months of time and energy into perfecting. You spend your free time on your computer creating the next big video game. In group projects, you’re the one who’s always tasked with the creative portion.

But now that you’re a senior in high school, things are getting serious. In fact, there’s one nagging question in the back of your mind: will your creative skills help you successfully transition into college, and ultimately, a career?

The good news is, it’s a great time to be creative! Now more than ever, colleges and employers alike are looking to art and design students to bring their fresh perspective and creative thinking to their schools and companies.

And while Academy of Art University will provide you the support and resources you need to make your transition smooth, there are things you can do NOW to put your creative abilities to use as you transition into college, and your career. Here are some:

Finish High School Strong

Students who make the most of their time in high school are in the best position to start college after graduation—especially in creative fields. Stay focused, work hard, eat right, enjoy the student life, have fun—all of these will help you get the most out of your last year of high school, and will help you enter college with confidence.

Apply Early!

The simple act of applying to the Academy will make it feel more real, and keep you focused and on track. Applying is easy, and if you have any questions, we’re here to help.

Keep Pushing Yourself!

College is very fun. But it’s also work. “My teachers and coaches at Academy of Art really helped me understand the importance of always giving it 100 percent,” says recent Academy graduate Jenny Johansson. “I am thankful for the way they pushed me and always made me try to improve even when I thought I had ‘done enough.’ There is never an ‘enough.’” Don’t let up on your productivity now!

You Be You

There are many out there who may not see the benefits of going to art and design school. Even those closest to you may want to reshape you into something you aren’t. Hold fast to your unique style! Staying true to yourself will benefit you for years to come, and will help you avoid any “what if?” moments of regret. Staying true to you is also an asset in the professional world—personal identity and authenticity set you apart from the fray, and get you noticed. Following your heart and staying steady on the path you have chosen will lead to success.

Develop Your Portfolio

You don’t need a portfolio to apply at Academy of Art. But it sure helps when it’s time to start your career. There’s no better time to start building your portfolio than in high school, and no better time perfect it than while you’re in college. Work with your instructors, mentors and peers to develop your best ideas. By the time you graduate, your portfolio should be a mature, well-rounded body of work that fully represents your ability and style. As an added transitional benefit, check out the Academy’s Summer Portfolio Grant to help pay for school.

Get a Job

Taking an internship or a job in a creative field is one of the best ways to gain real-world experience and develop skills that will be valuable after graduation. It may be easier than you think to find an internship or part-time employment. Try a design firm, fine arts supply store, or an advertising agency. Or maybe you can work on campus publications like the paper or yearbook. Check with local art galleries to see if they have openings for volunteers. Once you’re here, the Academy can help connect you with people and companies that will further your career.

Don’t Abandon Your Other Topics

One reason companies like hiring art and design students is because they are well rounded. More than you can imagine, technical and computer skills are an important part of creating and distributing your art. Any skills you can gain—no matter the topic—will serve you well in college and in your creative career.

Do Something Outstanding 

High school and college present many opportunities to participate in extra programs that will expand your view. Study abroad, join an art collective to sell your art, participate in juried shows, join an art club, teach grade schoolers, offer to help an local artist for free. If you haven’t yet, look into the Academy’s Pre-College Art Experience (PCAE), which is a great head start. If you need other ideas, we can help you find something that is just right for you.

Meet Working Pros in Your Field

At Academy of Art, students often have the opportunity to collaborate with industry insiders. Just being at the Academy opens doors to a world of opportunities. “I met so many artists and designers living in the Bay Area: photographers, illustrators, graphic designers,” said Academy alum Paxton Madison. “This whole world of design as a profession opened up to me.” Networking is as important in art as in any profession. Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself.

Finally, Don’t Worry: You’ll Be at Home Here

Remember, Academy of Art University was designed by people like you, for people like you. You can be confident that you’ll find your place quickly. Your courses will be dynamic, applicable, and taught by industry professionals, no matter whether you’re studying online, or taking classes on campus.

And no matter what career you choose, an Academy education gives you all the tools you need to succeed.

Now is the time make the next move. Make good use of your final months in high school and start planning your college experience today.

Apply to Academy of Art University today to begin your creative life. Visit Admissions today to begin the transition to your future as an artist.