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Tips for Fine Arts Scholarships

Lonny Harrison, Director of Theatre at Saint James School and Emily Thomas, Photography Instructor at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery offered their best advice for students interested in art scholarships. 

Lonny Harrison, Director of Theatre at Saint James School and Emily Thomas, Photography Instructor at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery offered their best advice for students interested in art scholarships. 

Q: Do students have to be an active member in an art organization to land an art scholarship? 

Emily: Although many colleges and universities do not require you to be an active member of an Arts organization, it won’t hurt. It can improve your resume and actually increase scholarship opportunities. For example, the National Art Honor Society offers scholarship funds for seniors who are active members in their school’s chapter. 

 Q: When is the best time to start preparing your portfolio for an arts scholarship? What’s the best way to prepare? 

Emily: Most portfolio-based scholarship deadlines range from December to February, so start the college admission process early. Students should search the Fine Arts or Liberal Arts department websites for the schools they’re interested in to see what scholarships are available. They should also plan to attend National Portfolio Day (NPD) (www.portfolioday.net) to meet college reps and get feedback on their portfolios and learn about schools and scholarships. 

 “I tell my students to ‘educate your eyes’…Go to museums and galleries to find artists and artwork that inspires you. Consume and produce as much art as you can.” — Emily Thomas, Photography Instructor at Booker T.  Washington Magnet High School 

 Q: Can gifted students with C+ grades and average standardized test scores land art scholarships too? 

Lonny: Grades and test scores DO play a significant factor for many college departmental scholarships. However, there are many scholarships available through local, state and national competitions and searches that are simply based on your talent alone. Talented students can most definitely find and receive scholarships without stellar grades. 

 “Don’t wait til the last minute to get your house in order. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE your craft.” — Lonny Harrison, Director of Theatre at Saint James School 

Q: What advice would you give to students to ensure that they’re on track to land an arts scholarship in the future? 

Lonny: Keep diverse styles in your repertoire. Listen to criticism and use it as a tool to excel. Never consider criticism to be a list of things you did wrong, but rather a vehicle to help you improve and hone your craft. 

Ultimately, some of the best resources to land art scholarships are right nearby. Ask fellow art students, teachers, guidance counselors and schools you’re interested in attending about upcoming institutional, organizational or art scholarship competitions. 

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