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the odyssey begins…..

carobanano | Posted in General Discussion on

First week of senior year has passed! And with relatively few problems, too. 😀 College-searching became a headache a long time ago, but now I’m cracking down on it, big time. These are the places I’m thinking about applying to (and majoring in fashion design):
Philadelphia U
Massachusetts College of Art
Rhode Island School of Design
Virginia Commonwealth University

Any insights, personal experiences, etc. into these? I’ve visited RISD and Cornell and shall be off to NYC to visit the trio there. That’s crucial, really, because I don’t know how I feel about New York. If I decide I’m not comfortable there, then there goes 3 colleges off the list (which the parental units are ordering me to narrow down).

Your thoughts will be loved, adored, cherished, etc. Thanks!


  1. Elisabeth | | #1

    Virginia Commonwealth University is a little short on dorms so most of the students end up living in apartments near the college. As an incoming freshman the dorm life is a fabulous way to meet a large variety of fellow students. The off campus living usually works out if you can get a place nearby. VCU is fairly large and has a large feeling the way it is plopped down in the city the way it is. The campus can seem a bit spread out.

    There have always been good comments on the various art departments at VCU and while I really don't know anything about the fashion design department, I would give the school and overall "medium". There are excellent teachers there and there are some not good. I took some classes there a few years ago and experienced both kinds. My daughter went there for a couple of years and it didn't suit her, she felt lost in the massive shuffle, but she has friends that did enjoy their degree pursuits at VCU.

    Richmond is in the south and you would find southern type attitudes there. People are generally friendly and laid back and the city has some attractive areas and happenings. Things are a little slow but even if Richmond is big, sometimes things can seem a little backwards. It is not a particularly fashion forward place at all. Fabric stores are few and mediocre.

    I personally really like Boston, the energy is great. Good public transportation like the T makes getting around so much easier. The collection of schools in the Boston - Cambridge area attracts a lot of interesting and international people. I have no idea what Mass Art is like, I'm sorry. But my ex went to the School of the Museum if Fine Arts and that was great. Boston is a hub of art in a quieter sort of way than New York mediawise. If you find New York overwhelming then you will possibly feel relief at Boston's much smaller feel even though it is big.

    I think it is really important to expose yourself to the amazing things in your chosen art or field. Be where "it" is happening at least for a while. Happening in school and in the nearby enough industry or community. Be in a place where there are plenty of people with a passion for your type of work, career people and school people. Passions are fun to be around.

    1. carobanano | | #6

      Richmond is a pretty nice city- my mom's side of the family lives there, so we go at least once or twice a year. It's bigger than where I am right now, certainly, and that's my goal!

  2. SewNancy | | #2

    Dear Caro,

    I have a daughter who just started at Sarah Lawrence Colleg in Bronxville, so went through the process  the last year and  a half.  She shied away from looking in NYC but she has since learned her way around and probably would look at colleges in the City now.  Don't let your fear of NYC keep you from applying to Parsons or FIT, they have turned out some to the most famous names in fashion.  It is pretty easy to navigate NYC with the ppublic transportation being tops.   When I shop in the garment district for fabric I always run into design students looking for samples and their projects always look fascinating.  Good luck!


    1. edgy | | #3

      All I can say is RISD, RISD, RISD. My experience there was fantastic and compounded by the vast array of the interests of the students. I really was able to study things I hadn't thought would interest me, and came away richer for it.

      But, it's really an individual thing. You will have a gut reaction from reading about and visitng the schools and will "know" what is right for you.

      BTW, I'm a painter as my day job, and a sewist on the weekends!! And the 2 get combined in wonderful ways. As long as folks buy what I paint, I can continue to fund my sewing -- and am happy in both.

      Good luck w your school hunting!!


  3. carolfresia | | #4

    Just to make it harder, I wanted to mention that we've heard good things about Savannah College of Art and Design, too! Of your list, the only one I don't know anything about is VCU, but you've gotten input on that already. Good luck--and have lots of fun!


    1. carobanano | | #7

      I got a viewbook in the mail from SCAD last week. (Cor, you have to wonder how much money colleges spend on that sort of thing. I didn't even request it!) It does indeed look like a great school, but it's too far away for my tastes. I live in PA, and I'd like to stay within a day's driving distance. Now, if they could just pick up SCAD and move it to Pittsburgh or Philly....!

  4. marijke | | #5

    Others with more knowledge on fashion design have given you great input.  I just wanted to add that when you visit various places, ask to speak with faculty in your chosen field.  The campus may look pretty, but what really counts is whether the faculty are people who are interested in teaching you something!  You won't know everything from one conversation, but you'll at least get some idea.  Sometimes you can 'sit in' on a class and see what actually happens in class/lab/etc/


  5. softfurn | | #8

    Caro, IMHO, consider FIT or Parsons if you really want to persue a carreer in fashion. Most garment companies "prefer" hiring these graduates above all others.There is a certain loyalty about hiring from ones alma mater in this business and you rarely hear about graduates coming from other schools.

  6. softfurn | | #9

    Caro, I just thought of some other ways to help you narrow your search. You may want to contact some of the Human Resources depts at some of the large clothing companies and ask their opinion about hiring , and if choice of schools makes a difference.Ask the schools that you are interested in, where their graduates are employed now, or if there are any well known graduates in your field. And my other idea, is you could go to a school and then transfer after a year or two. Also find out if the schools have a job placement center and see if you can find out what these jobs are in your field, etc.

  7. Elisabeth | | #10

    Do you have a specific fashion design career in mind already? There are so many different things one can do.

    1. carobanano | | #11

      That's true, and it's tough to know for sure......I don't see myself being in costuming/theatre. But after that, well, I could see myself doing runway shows for ready-to-wear, or traveling the art-show circuit to sell my clothes, or having a custom clothing shop, maybe even specializing in special occasion clothes. (I love eveningwear, most of my sketches are gowns.) So it isn't really a high priority for me to jet off to NYC, but.....it would be cool, and look great on my resume.

      Edited 9/19/2004 2:37 pm ET by Caro

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