• Julie Simons

Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago is near Roosevelt University in Chicago's arts and education corridor, but its culture is unmistakably its own. The school proudly describes itself as “a school for creatives by creatives.” Columbia College Chicago wants its students to be the authors and creators of culture and works hard to propel students to work. Like many arts colleges, Columbia College Chicago is really good at teaching the craft, but they differ in also getting students to understand the business side of the arts and helping students understand how people can actually make a living as artists.


Film is the most popular major, with business being the second largest and fashion following up third. The business program is focused on the information and skills needed to manage artistic endeavors like film business, music business, fashion management, and media management. They urge all students to take a business class because they believe there's a huge benefit to doing so. For example, if you want to be a poet, it can help tremendously to learn about the business aspect of writing and publishing.


In line with this philosophy, Columbia College Chicago offers mainly BA degrees, not BFA degrees. Liberal arts classes create a context for art, and they also help students understand all aspects of the art they are creating. For example, visual artists can take a class on the chemistry of dyes and colors.


Students who want a BFA first apply for a BA and then - assuming they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher - can audition for BFA programs as sophomores. This creates another unique aspect to Columbia College Chicago: flexibility. While most BFA programs are set from day 1, students at Columbia College Chicago have flexibility through their first year of school. Because students apply to and are accepted for a BA program they can easily switch majors and fields. My tour guide thought she was going to be a comedy arts major until she took classes. When she realized this was not the right fit for her, she switched to multimedia journalism. It’s an incredible opportunity for students who know they are truly creative people but still have more exploring to do - and it’s not possible in most arts schools!


Opportunities and resources are bountiful at Columbia College Chicago. They have a student-run record label, student TV shows, the Columbia Poetry Review, a multimillion dollar facility for cinematography with two sound stages and a motion capture studio that is twice the industry standard, over 44 shows per year, soundproof recording studios in the dorms, and a store that sells student work on campus and online - and much more.


If you want to go into the arts and want to be empowered to be successful creatively and financially, Columbia College Chicago should be on your list to explore!




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