For my readers that are passionate about the study of art, majoring in art history can be an exciting and rewarding path. This blog post offers some pieces of advice on how to find success while in college and pursuing this degree. I received a bachelor's (with honors) in art history from the University of Washington and I found that the items on this list helped me make the most of my time! The Accessible Art History YouTube channel also did a video on this subject, I've linked it here.
The first step for success starts before you even enter college. While in the application process, do research on the art history programs offered by different universities. Look at their library system, previous class schedules, faculty, etc. This will give you a great idea about what your college experience will look like. If you already know what period or movement you want to focus on, make sure to look for faculty and classes that zero in on it.
Once you've gone through all the stress of application and acceptance, it's time to look up degree and graduation requirements. Not only will this prevent any scrambling during your senior year, but it will bring peace of mind, knowing that you're maximizing your time at university! You should also use this time to find classes outside of art history that you want to take. It's important to stay well rounded. For example, I took astronomy and language classes and it added a lot to my experience!
One of my biggest pieces of advice is to start at the beginning! Even if you took AP Art History, I recommend starting with a survey course. Not only will this offer a chance to refresh your knowledge, but it will let you learn how university courses are taught. They differ quite a lot from high school classes, so by taking a survey course, you will learn how to adjust to this new learning style with familiar material.
While at university, it is important to find a faculty member to be an advisor. Part of their job is to help nurture and guide students, so don't be shy! It is important to note that your advisor does not necessarily have to be in the art history department. Although that is the ideal situation, professors from related areas, such as history or anthropology, can still be great options to help you on your educational journey.
Although you will spend a lot of your time studying and writing papers, it is still important to connect with others that share your passion! Look for a club or connect with a study group. Not only will you find like-minded people, but you'll have a support system during your time in school.
Finally, one of my most important recommendations is to study abroad. It can be pricey, but many schools offer financial aid. If you can afford to do it, I promise it is well worth the price tag. Personally, I spent a quarter in Rome and it completely changed my perspective on art and history. I was able to see all of the art I had studied for years, in person! It was an incredible experience and I'm so thankful I was able to do it.
These are my top tips for finding success as an art history major! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below. And make sure to follow Accessible Art History on all of our social media. We post daily on multiple platforms!