Students new to the Academy of Art University quickly find out that although it is relatively easy to enroll in the Academy, they have to work hard to stay here. Most students are thrilled to be challenged in new ways, but the open enrollment freshman classroom also contains students who struggle in a variety of ways.
"But it’s my art! You can’t..."
Many students are having their artwork critically evaluated for the first time.
"OVERDUE? But this is art school!"
Some were not very successful in the traditional academic high school setting. While they were not picking up English and math skills, they were also missing out on valuable time management, planning, communication and group work skills.
"But I've never had a C in my life!"
Some students are very skilled at academics, but have trouble transferring their academic knowledge and expectations into the project-based Academy setting. Students enroll at the Academy desiring to become trained artists. They are making sacrifices to be here—holding down jobs, taking out financial aid loans, transitioning from another career, or leaving their home country to study abroad. But their motivation can waver. A crucial part of your job is to help them stay motivated and support their passion for art and design. You also need to gently acculturate new students to the world of the professional artist, which does include criticism, hard deadlines, and professional communication.
TIPS for reaching freshmen at the Academy
- Get to know your students. On the first day of class distribute a questionnaire so that you can become familiar with your students’ particular backgrounds. Knowing names and remembering one or two details about each one goes a very long way in establishing rapport.
- Treat all of your students with the same respect you would give to a peer. Work from the assumption that they want to learn. If their performance is not up to par, isolate the skills that they need to work on and coach them or refer them to the Academy Resource Center (ARC) for help.
- Be explicit in your expectations of students. Written assignments, a clear syllabus, and concise feed- back (written, if possible) can help to avoid any misunderstandings.