Even though I’ve lived in New York City all my life, going to a new school—especially a super amazing and competitive art school—is a huge adjustment. For those of you coming from different cities and countries, it is going to be even more of an adjustment. Definitely not a negative adjustment but it will take some time to get used to everything. The first month is definitely the hardest but you will get used to everything and love it by month two!
Learn everything there is to know about your roommate; create ground rules and form a solid line of communication. Thank god for social media because most of you already know about your roommate and it makes things easier knowing who you’re going to live with. But still when you get to school and you actually start living with this person, it is important to keep a positive relationship with them.
Your map of buildings around campus is your best friend, take it with you everywhere, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Believe it or not, NYC actually isn’t that big. But to a newcomer it can seem colossal. You should explore your neighborhood, get used to the grid of New York. This and the subway are your ticket into the city. Learn your way around campus first and then you’ll feel more comfortable venturing out to other parts of the city.
Develop a routine and write down EVERYTHING you have to do so you don’t lose track of your assignments. It is very hard to develop time management skills especially during your first year when you’re still getting used to the big workload. Don’t leave everything until the last minute! I can’t say I don’t do this but I’m telling you that you shouldn’t because it just makes everything worse. I’m not going to lie, I had multiple emotional breakdowns when I couldn’t figure out how to build something for my Space and Materiality class or my printer wasn’t working the night before something was due. But don’t worry, absolutely everyone in your classes are in the same boat as you. As a super sensitive teenage girl myself I can say that people our age have an array of emotions constantly running through our body and stress does nothing but aggravate those emotions. But there is no need to freak out because I can tell you one thing: all that does is waste the precious time you need to finish those assignments you’re stressing over.
Your professors are only there to help you, so definitely take advantage of that when you feel like you don’t understand something. You’re not going to love all of your professors and you might not always be happy with grades you receive on certain assignments. You’re never going to be penalized for asking for help, actually most professors love when students reach out because it shows that they’re interested in succeeding. Getting a bad grade on one of your first assignments might seem like a scary start, but your first grade at art school doesn’t have to be your final grade.
Be confident about your work. You’re always going to feel like someone in your class is better than you, especially when everyone is still getting to know each other and everyone’s recognizing one another’s artistic style. Even though you may feel super intimidated during critiques it all comes down to how you feel about your work. If you don’t like it, then no one else is going to like it. We all have our own styles and people may be better than you at some things, but you can’t let that get to you. I remember feeling terrible after one of my first Drawing and Imaging class because when everyone put their work up on the wall, I thought my drawing was the worst one. But I used that as motivation to get better. I started putting a lot of effort into my assignments and my skills improved. Even though I don’t plan on pursuing drawing, I’m confident about my skills now and it helped me grow as an artist.