As a SCAD alumna, I’m often approached by eager students (and their sometimes anxious parents) and asked to give advice on whether to consider attending SCAD for college. Like every institution, SCAD has its pros and cons, but I’m confident that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the incredible training and support I received during my four years there.
Here are my Top Ten Tips for students considering The Savannah College of Art and Design.
Don’t let “Sticker Shock” prevent you from applying
When in doubt, submit your portfolio. This is true for applying to college and for your entire artistic career! Prior to SCAD, I had no formal training whatsoever. My portfolio was really just a random assemblage of individual projects I’d worked on in my spare time. Still, I managed to get both an academic and artistic scholarship. SCAD has a lot of funding and resources for deserving students, so go ahead and apply even if you’re concerned about the price. You never know what could happen, and you don’t want to end up asking yourself “what if?”
Don’t skip the gym
As one of those rare artsy kids who also played sports, the SCAD gym was a really important way to meet like-minded people and blow off steam. But even if you were a “hide in the back of gym class” type of kid, it’s important to take care of your physical and mental health while in art school. SCAD offers fitness classes like yoga and pilates as well as intramural and Division II sports. They even boast a world-class equestrian program! Just as important, SCAD has great mental health resources. I was a frequent flyer in the counseling center and still speak to my therapist from SCAD on occasion.
Do embrace dorm life
I can’t say I was looking forward to living in a tiny room with two strangers during my first year at college, but living in the dorms turned out to be one of my favorite undergraduate experiences. SCAD freshmen pride themselves on their ability to find creative ways to decorate their dorms and make those spaces feel like home. You’ll also take several of your foundation classes with the people in your hall, so it’s a great way to build community early on. Even though I moved into apartment-style housing as a sophomore, I’ll always be grateful for those memories.
Don’t blow off your foundations classes
Speaking of freshman year, it's worthwhile to excel in your general education and 101 classes. Students who make good first impressions are more likely to be given opportunities later, so find a professor who will mentor you and champion you as the years go on. Your SCAD experience will be what you make of it, so try to stand out from day one.
Do try new art forms
When I started SCAD, I fully intended to study architecture. Now, I have an award-winning jewelry business! Even if you think you’re 100% certain you know exactly what you want to do with your future, take some time to explore new art forms. Even if you don’t end up changing your mind, the experiences will inspire and inform your work, making you a more rounded artist in the long run. Plus, you may discover a passion you never knew existed.
Do explore Savannah
What SCAD lacks in a traditional campus, it makes up for by being situated in the heart of Savannah. SCAD is completely integrated with the city and students get to be part of daily life. Savannah is full of gorgeous scenery, architecture, parks, museums, and restaurants. The city is both vibrant and bustling but also small enough to feel comfortable if you’re living away from home for the first time.
Do expect to work hard
Art school is hard work. It may seem counterintuitive, but it requires a ton of discipline to make a living as a creative, and the faculty at SCAD are serious about preparing their students for the realities of life after college. That means you have to be willing to hunker down and work if you want to be successful. The good news is, everyone is in the same boat so you’ll never be alone on those late nights in the studio. Before you know it, the people in your major will become like family. All these years after graduation, I can attest that the work ethic I developed at SCAD set me up for success in the long haul.
Do expand your cultural horizons
One of the most exciting things about SCAD is how diverse the student population is. You’re going to live, work, and study with peers from all over the world. Take this opportunity to dive into their stories, history, foods, customs, and talents. Pushing your boundaries will not only make you a better artist, but it will make you a better human being. There are so many fascinating cultural events that happen every year at SCAD, so try to take part in as many as possible.
Make the most of networking, alumni connections and professional opportunities.
During my time at SCAD, I was frequently invited to represent the school at conferences, mixers, and networking events. I also had an incredible internship with a brilliant jewelry designer who showed me the ropes of running a small business. Now, I offer paid internships to current SCAD students. There are so many fantastic opportunities available to exceptional students, so be sure to express your interest, put in your time, and say yes to everything that comes your way.
Savor every moment!
SCAD is a completely unique atmosphere, like nowhere else in the world. It will open your eyes to new experiences and passions while setting you up for success in the long term. Work hard, laugh often, and make friendships and memories to last a lifetime. It’s going to be fantastic. I believe in you!