You’ve begun the process of touring colleges…welcome to the madness! Touring art universities can be a little different from seeing other schools, so here are some valuable questions to ask while visiting an art school.
Often when a tour guide mentions the student to faculty ratio, they’re really talking about how many students you’ll be sharing a professor with in a given class. At SMFA at Tufts, a studio class size is usually about 8-10 students, and since each class is at least three hours long, the professor always has time to talk to each student.
This is a tricky one. For example, at SMFA, students can (and are encouraged to) experiment and work in any discipline they are interested in. Since there are no majors at SMFA, the only barrier keeping you from popping into a studio department one day and just beginning a project is safety – like in the welding studio or the woodshop, where you need to understand the equipment to know how to work there. But, once you get safety certified to work in that space you can spend as much time there as you want, even if you don’t have any classes in that studio! This is not often the case at other art universities – usually, once you declare a major, you are limited to working in the studios dedicated to that department.
This answer will depend on the location of the university you are looking at. For SMFA at Tufts, there is more than one campus and more than one experience to be had. The SMFA campus itself is in the Fenway area of Boston, near other schools like MassArt, Berklee College of Music, Northeastern, and Wentworth, just to name a few. It is right next door to the Museum of Fine Arts and across from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It is a city campus! Getting around is easy and integral to the learning experience – professors take their students out on the subway system (called the T in Boston) on field trips, studio visits, and explorations all the time. Students socialize with their SMFA classmates but also have the opportunity to meet peers from the one hundred other universities they share the city with. But then there’s the Medford campus: airy, open, and green – the Tufts Medford campus is accessible from the city and the T but is its own community. Students live there, go to classes there, socialize and eat there – it’s a one-stop shop for your college experience. So how do you choose? Being an SMFA at Tufts student means you get to have both.
This is an important one! The active art lives of your professors will reflect in the lessons they teach you. You want to be able to connect to your professors and receive guidance from them. And their active connections will come in handy, too, when you begin to search for internships and jobs!
Obviously, every single school is different. However, there are a lot of industry standards in the art university world that can make an experience at one school very similar to another, so it’s important to find out what makes each college unique. For example, there are some key points that make SMFA completely different from other American art colleges. Like I mentioned above, there are no majors – the undergraduates at SMFA at Tufts are studying for their Bachelor of Fine Arts or for a Dual Degree and do not have to declare that they are working in a specific medium. This means they can study in any and every medium and academic subject they are interested in for all four (or five) years of college! This is what it means to go to an interdisciplinary school. Another unique factor of SMFA is the dual campuses of Boston and Medford that I mentioned above. Every school is going to have it's own way of life, so it's important to ask your tour guide what makes their school different.
That's all for now! More helpful questions to come.
A brief video outlining some of the cool happenings at the The W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Library on the SMFA campus. Check it out!
The answer is… possibly. Let me fill you in on some history of the SMFA at Tufts, the Museum of Fine Arts, our programs, and what it means to be a student…
In my last blog HERE, I gave you a little low down on the history of the SMFA at Tufts and the Museum of Fine Arts. Now I’m back to talk a little more…