I had my graduation review yesterday morning. I had a pretty positive review. I will be getting my bachelors degree in exactly a month....May 13 (also Friday the 13th) feeling bitter sweet about the idea.
Everyone has their own experience with school but I've gained a lot from my time in CalArts. When I first toured the CalArts campus when I was 15 years old, I knew I had to come here. What made me what to go to an art school verses a traditional university for my undergrad was because the people who I met who went to art schools seem so passionate about their creative practice. The students are sacrificing the "typical college experience"-no frats, no sororities, no big sports games. Rather they choose to emerge themselves into their creative practice.
It's definitely not for everyone. Even within different art school theirs different cultures. Some art schools focus more on design or craftsmanship whereas CalArts leans more towards the conceptual side of art. The school provides the students a lot of room for creative exploration. During my first year in CalArts I joked that it seems like all the weird art kids that you were afraid to socialize with in high school all thrown in a building and now you need to socialize with them to survive. Some people hate it, they prefer having more concrete structure and guidance. I agree sometimes it can be scary not to have a set framework but I enjoy the the artistic freedom that CalArts offers. In the beginning it was a bit overwhelming. All the students come from different backgrounds but they are all so talented. Yet what I find that really helps is that school has a strong support system even through different disciplinary schools( art, film/video, music, dance, theater, critical studies). CalArts has a strong sense of both community and individuality. Even though everyone has their own unique interest and styles, it helped complement with their peers.
In the past four years I learned a lot about myself as an artist and as an individual. I made life-long friendships and had the pleasure to work with wonderful encouraging professors. Of course there were times that weren't that great. But those tough times also gave my CalArts experience more character.
Even though I'm leaving CalArts in a month and going into USC grad school in the fall, I'll always be a CalArtian first.