For me, college preparation started in middle school. By eighth grade, I knew I wanted to go into art for college. I just wasn’t sure what kind of art field I would be going into. I thought at the time perhaps fashion design so I started my hobby of sketching clothes. Then the hobby of sketching led me to take some drawing classes at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Taking Accredited Drawing Classes while in High School and Reading Fine Art Books
Every week during my sophomore year in high school my Mom and I went to a drawing class that was accredited so I would not have to take drawing classes when I arrived in college. At this time I started wanting to learn more about famous artists so I borrowed art books from the library and started to learn about famous artists like M.C. Escher, Monet, Picasso, Manet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and much more. This prepared me for my history of fine arts classes in college. In those classes, we had to identify famous works of art and who made them.
Going to Museums to See Famous Works of Art
Another hobby of mine that prepared me for my art history classes was going to museums in New York City. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I saw famous paintings by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and many more artists. While in New York City I also visited the Guggenheim Museum and I got to learn about contemporary art. The works of art I saw in the New York City Museums left a lasting impression on me and left me hungry for more knowledge about these artists so I started buying art books and ripping out the pages and putting them on my wall so I could memorize them. I bought a book of Monet’s painting and tore out the pages and taped all of Monet’s paintings on my closet door.
Taking Accredited Photography Class
Once I realized taking courses at RIT was fun I decided to take a photography class the summer of my junior year in high school. I learned how to use a camera, develop black and white film, and print my images in the darkroom. This experience helped me decide I was going to RIT for photography.
Loading My Schedule During My Senior Year in High School with Art Classes
Once I decided I was going to school for photography I decided to take as many art classes in high school as possible. I also decided to take advanced placement art, which allowed me to hone my drawing, painting, and photography skills. I spent many hours in the darkroom at my high school and I got to make some interesting images that I entered in an art contest. I won gold for my photography and I got to showcase them at Bevier Gallery.
Reading Books About Photography
I began reading photography books when I took the photography class at RIT during the summer of my junior year. I used to go to the RIT library during my spare time and borrow many photography books most of them about famous photographers and some of them about photo techniques like how to take portraits. During my senior year in high school, I decided to write my English research paper on famous photographers, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Capa, and Weegee.
Taking college courses in drawing and photography, reading art books and photo books helped me prepare for college and I have my parents to thank. My Mom and Dad drove me to the library and bookstore and to my classes and bought my school supplies and books. I also have them to thank for taking me to the museums in New York City.
What I Wish I Had Done in Preparation for College
There a few things I wished I had done before arriving at college that some of my classmates did. I wished I had learned about graphic design and read through graphic design books because graphic design is a field within the realm of art that you can go into if you are an artist. There were computers in the art classroom at my high school that Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator installed in it and I did not bother to learn them while I was in high school. At the time I did not think I would ever be using Photoshop or Illustrator and I was very wrong.
I also wished I had learned how to use other camera formats besides 35 mm film cameras such as digital cameras, medium format, and 4×5 cameras. Some of my classmates had also used lighting equipment so they had a head start and I did not even once think about learning how to use lighting equipment before going into college and I really needed to have tried it at least so I would not be intimidated by lighting equipment. Overall though I think I was fairly prepared for college. I was very glad to have already taken the drawing classes because they were applied to my credits. The photo class was not, but the lessons learned were invaluable. If you are heading to college soon as a photography major and you are reading this make sure to follow what I have done and also do the things I wish I had so you are fully prepared.
I made a video version of my blog post. It is a video of me talking about what I did to prepare for college.