Choosing a college is never easy. As a senior in high school, my search for the perfect school was challenging. I knew I wanted to study art and become an art educator. My ultimate goal for the future is to be a children's book author and illustrator. So as I looked into different schools, I paid particular attention to each school's art program as well as the education programs they offered.
Of the four schools I applied to only two of them offered art education programs. I applied to the other two schools because they had wonderful art programs and opportunities. Fortunately enough, I was accepted into all the schools I applied to! They all offered me wonderful scholarship opportunities, but Lycoming came out on top with their financial aid package. Also, going to an in-state college qualifies you for more state funding for your education, although I was not aware of this difference when I was choosing a college. Financial aid was just one of the many contributing factors in my decision to attend Lycoming College.
Another factor was how far I was willing to be from my family. Two of the colleges I applied to - Montserrat College of Art and Ringling College of Art & Design - are not in Pennsylvania. Montserrat, located in Massachusetts, offers an art education education program and has a wonderful art community that I would have loved to be a part of. But, for the amount of money I would still have to give them, I did not see my "perfect fit."
I applied to Ringling College of Art & Design, in Florida, to prove to myself that I could get into a prestigious school, and I did! I thought Ringling was my dream school, but it wasn't meant to be. A downside to this school is that they do not offer an art education program, but they do offer wonderful opportunities that would open doors into working with top studios such as Pixar and DreamWorks animation studios. Unfortunately, when factoring how much the tuition was compared to their financial aid offer, and factoring in traveling expenses, it was nearly impossible for me to justify going to this school.
During the time I was trying to make my college decision, my grandfather's health was deteriorating. I official ruled out my out-of-state options because I did not want to be too far away from my family. In the end, I am glad that I made this decision because I lost my grandfather the summer before my freshman year of college. If I had gone out of state, I would not have been able to see him before he passed.
The last college I applied to was Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. They offered a reasonable scholarship and are located close to home. Like Ringling, PCA&D did not offer an art education program. What really swayed my decision not to go to this school was reading student's reviews on various college websites. When I compared Lycoming to PCA&D, there was a higher satisfaction rate for Lycoming. Students were unsatisfied with their professors and the atmosphere of the surrounding area. Lycoming students were also more likely to move on and either continue their education or receive jobs after graduation. In the end, I felt that if I was not able to study education, it was not the right place for me.
Looking back on how I chose my college, Lycoming was always the number one fit for me. Going to a school in my hometown allowed me to stay close to my family, which is very important to me and my success. I am not breaking the bank for the sake of a good education. I also love my community and how much it supports the arts. If I had not gone to Lycoming, I would not have discovered and began pursuing teaching Special Education. Although I am not living the "full college experience" because I live at home, I still have wonderful opportunities to be involved and grow as a person in my journey to becoming an educator! In the moments of hard decisions, when things do not seem to be going the way you planned, I encourage everyone to embrace the idea that everything happens for a reason, because those are the moments that make you grow the most!
If you are considering teaching or studying art, Lycoming has programs that will fit your needs and shape you as an artist. Check them out today!