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Where should she apply?
April 16, 2012 8:37 PM   Subscribe

My cousin is having a hell of a time figuring out where to apply to college. She likes film, design, and writing. Please help.

Cousin ("C") is 16, advanced for her age maturity-wise, and really, really smart in all the ways that will hopefully become apparent in her essays. Her GPA and test scores are good but not special (3.75, 1420 Critical Reading + Math). As far as I know, she works at a movie theater, volunteers her graphic design services and for an arts organization, tutors a kid, and spends the rest of her time doing her photography thing and writing (=blogging). C is nerdy in a very non-awkward, non-teenagerish kind of way and has never found her niche in her own age group - to be honest, she fits in way better with the mid-twenties crowd than the other 16-year-olds.

She's found that all the colleges are beginning to blend and more personal suggestions could help give her some direction. C is thinking about the state university (UNC-Chapel Hill), Carnegie Mellon, and the Macaulay Honors program at CUNY (Hunter specifically); are these realistic for her? She is obsessed with New York and wants to be in an urban environment with a lot of live music venues, festivals, and internship opportunities. She is a very liberal artsy kind of thinker, but she also wants the opportunity to take a true-blue design class or at least be exposed to the appropriate resources. C says she wants to "make urban documentaries, design websites, and tell stories, maybe at the same time. Or work in radio." Financial need is a big thing and she's pretty adamant that she'll go to community college before she takes on a ton of loans.

So, over-sharing accounted for, where should this kid be looking? Did you go to a liberal arts college/university in an urban setting with good design/film/writing resources, and if so, where?
posted by goosechasing to Education (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I went to Chapel Hill! She wants to "make urban documentaries, design websites, and tell stories, maybe at the same time. Or work in radio" ? She should go to UNC and go into the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. You can study literally all of that at the J-School.

"The school offers specializations in editing and graphic design, electronic communication (television and radio broadcasting), multimedia, photojournalism, reporting, advertising, public relations and strategic communication." It's also ranked consistently in the top 5 journalism programs in the country. If she can get state tuition, it's a hell of a good deal.

I personally did the advertising track, and while I'm not in advertising now I did get some excellent research experience, and I landed a freelance gig just from my experience in the required Intro News Writing class. A friend of mine did the graphic design track and now makes infographics for one of the biggest news sites around, while making websites on the side. I also know a documentary photographer and a news editor who did J-School.

You do have to have a certain GPA to get in, but it's totally achievable- can't find anything on the site, but it was 2.9 when I went there.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:53 PM on April 16, 2012


I would really check out Emerson College in Boston! It's not liberal-artsy but it is regular artsy, truly urban environment (possibly the most urban of all the major Boston schools, along with Suffolk), and I don't think admission is super crazy competitive, although I could be wrong about that.
posted by désoeuvrée at 8:57 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Oh, and they also have a killer student-run radio station.)
posted by désoeuvrée at 9:03 PM on April 16, 2012


So, over-sharing accounted for, where should this kid be looking? Did you go to a liberal arts college/university in an urban setting with good design/film/writing resources, and if so, where?

Wash U. St. Louis, which along with having good art/design offerings has the added benefit of being wealthy enough to provide significant amounts of financial aid.

But if she's in-state as you imply, she can't go wrong at UNC Chapel Hill.
posted by deanc at 9:11 PM on April 16, 2012


Art Center, Pasadena. Parsons, NYC. Pratt, NYC.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:26 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


1420 and 3.75 wouldn't automatically disqualify any of the best colleges in NYC (although they might be loan-heavy - but certainly less than most of the specific arts schools), and it seems like she might like a liberal arts education (which don't necessarily offer the same specific design/arts programs but would probably suit her and would offer opportunities to learn those specific skills). If she's obsessed with New York, why not Barnard? Even Columbia College might be worth consideration.

Also, there are a fair number of not-quite-as-"name" liberal arts universities with a lot of money to spare in order to get students they like. New College of Florida (not quite as urban) comes to mind. I believe Emerson is that way as well, and seems like a pretty great option for her. Occidental (fairly urban but far) might also be worth looking at, if she's willing to think about the other coast. Reed and Lewis & Clark also fall into that category (Portland is a pretty great, artsy place).

I went extensively through this process last year, and pretty much only considered fairly small, liberal arts, very urban schools. I've lost most of my lists n' things but I'd be happy to talk more about my experiences looking!
posted by R a c h e l at 10:31 PM on April 16, 2012


Rochester Institute of Technology has excellent film programs, graphic design, 3D animation, etc.

University of Buffalo had a Media Studies program that had excellent documentary faculty, last I knew. She could get an undergrad film studies degree and do more in grad school.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:45 PM on April 16, 2012


Can she get into Brown? That would probably be her dream school.

If not, tell her to read up on Reed, in Portland. Very smart, very liberal, in the hippest city west of Brooklyn.

In New York, NYU is also within her reach, though maybe not financially. Hunter in New York has a surprisingly good writing program, though I'm not sure it translates to undergrad.
posted by vecchio at 12:20 AM on April 17, 2012


Oh, and McGill in Montreal! Actually, this is probably where she should go. Stellar academics, a very cool urban environment, lots of New York kids, and about half the price of any comparable American school. Really, tell her to look into it.
posted by vecchio at 12:25 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, her numbers are very good--she should look into top liberal arts schools, and second- and third-tier LACs might even offer her some $. Grinnell, (in Iowa...there's always a catch), for example, is famously deep-pocketed.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:25 AM on April 17, 2012


If she's willing to move out west, I am an alumni of, and loved San Francisco State University.
posted by THAT William Mize at 2:04 AM on April 17, 2012


as an Art Center almumnus, I'd like to second DarlingBri. your cousin should consider taking a four week summer course or an art center at night class while doing an internship. these programs are a relatively cost-effective ways to explore what it means to be in these fields and most importantly an excellent way to talk to people who are experts in them. from the post you wrote I'd suggest she'd take a photography or film department class.

feel free to contact me if you need any more specific advice on the school.
posted by krautland at 3:06 AM on April 17, 2012


Seems to me Emerson College in Boston is worth a look! McGill is wonderful, but tough to get into for American kids these days, fyi.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:13 AM on April 17, 2012


wah, missed desoeuvree, ack.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:15 AM on April 17, 2012


So is she a junior that just took the SAT this Spring? With those grades and test scores, many interesting schools will make themselves known to her in the fall. So besides all the usual suspects mentioned above, pay attention to the schools that reach out to her. With those scores she is likely to hear from at least 50 schools. We just finished up the college decision thing last week, and one thing I learned that I didn't get going into this process is that the really expensive private schools will drop a $20K annual scholarship on a kid like your cousin fairly quickly, which brings their cost in line with a public school.
posted by COD at 6:00 AM on April 17, 2012


Chapel Hill's going to be rough on her. Very greek/southern belle oriented and academically rigorous, even for the top percentile performers. It's also a decidedly un-urban environment
posted by MangyCarface at 6:48 AM on April 17, 2012


Chapel Hill's going to be rough on her. Very greek/southern belle oriented and academically rigorous, even for the top percentile performers. It's also a decidedly un-urban environment

There's a pretty huge Greek scene there, yes, but there is also a pretty huge contingent of artsy hippie types who want nothing to do with all that. And it's a big enough school that you can chose who you want to hang around with.

It certainly isn't urban, though, that's true enough. But I think the should definitely consider it just because "financial need is a big thing and she's pretty adamant that she'll go to community college before she takes on a ton of loans". Her debt from a lot of the schools mentioned in this thread will be 4 or 5 or more times her debt from UNC.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:15 AM on April 17, 2012


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