No Art Classes at My Daughter's School

Dear Ivey Coach:

We just found out that my daughter’s school is eliminating all of the advanced art classes in favor of offering more music classes (the school has a highly reputed school orchestra and marching band, so music always wins). She’s crushed because art is HER THING and now she doesn’t have any good options for electives. Any ideas for her besides adding a study hall?

Dear Dad:

Although eliminating the advanced art classes is understandably disappointing, it presents an opportunity for your daughter to show the admissions officers her ability to pursue her passion through her own initiative!

She could talk with her art teacher about doing an independent study where she would work independently on an art project under the art teacher’s supervision. If there is an art club at school, your daughter should be an active participant. Perhaps she could even plan an art show at school or a local library or other venue to showcase her talent as well as her classmates’. If there isn’t an art club at school, your daughter could create one. Whether she intends to pursue a specialized art degree in college, or simply chooses to pursue fine or studio arts as a hobby, she should continue developing pieces for her portfolio with the expectation that she will be required to submit it with her college applications.

Your daughter should also ask her school counselor if there are any opportunities to take AP Art History (or any other art class) online through an approved provider. Through dual enrollment, she may be able to take advanced art courses at a local community college. Many high school students do not need to pay for these courses and they may even be awarded college credit for them. She should also look for electives that are related to her interest in art, like graphic design.

All that being said, this is an instance in which some parental advocacy is appropriate and could be very useful. It’s important to know if the decision to eliminate advanced art classes was based on scheduling, staffing, or finances? Perhaps a group of parents could brainstorm a solution to keep advanced art instruction in the school – for example by identifying a community member who’d be willing to offer an enrichment class after school. If you strike out at school, your daughter should pursue art classes outside of school if circumstances permit.

Finally, when it comes time to apply to college, your daughter would be well served by asking her art teacher to write her a letter of recommendation, and her school counselor to explain the school’s decision to eliminate advanced art classes. Of course those recommendations should also speak to your daughter’s commitment to art as well as her talent!