Though it may seem like a useless requirement for every college student to have to take a fine arts class to complete his or her undergraduate degree, it is important for students to try and see the value of their more artistically inclined classes.
As a fine arts minor, I may seem biased when I assert an art education is beneficial for everyone, but years of research back me up on this.
A study from 2002 done by the Arts Education Partnership demonstrates children who were exposed to art education are more adept in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics.
A 2006 Solomon R. Guggenheim report linked art education to improved literacy. The Center for Arts Education reported art education is linked to higher high school graduation rates in 2009, and Johns Hopkins researchers found that an arts education actually “rewires the brain in positive ways.” All these studies and more are fully explained in the article “10 Salient Studies on the Arts in Education” from onlinecollege.net.
The bottom line is that being exposed to the arts during your educational career has a positive impact in seemingly unrelated academic areas. Beyond the scholastic benefits, however, I can personally attest to its impact on the social, mental and emotional spheres of life.
This is why I’m grateful Troy University requires all undergraduate students to enroll in at least one art course during their time here. I understand everyone doesn’t love art, but I firmly believe every undergrad student at Troy should try to find an arts class that genuinely appeals to them, and then strive to really participate in the class and see the value in their own creation rather than just thinking of it as a requirement for graduation.
I’ve always been interested in art, sketching and sculpting specifically, but I also freely admit I’m not naturally good at those things. I have zero innate artistic talents, and I struggle to keep up with my classmates who seem to ooze creativity; however, I have developed the skills I currently possess through years of practice.
I have spent hours doodling in notebooks because drawing is cathartic to me, and this emotional release prompts me to continue exploring new artistic outlets. Everyone has struggled with feeling odd or lonely in high school, and many people found relief through sports, academic achievement or a genre of art.
For me, I helped my art teacher construct a stained-glass window that still hangs in the chapel of my small Catholic high school to this day. Making something that could bring people a sense of joy by merely existing was euphoric to me, and it played an integral role in my emotional and mental development as an adolescent.
Taking an introductory theater course may seem random if it has nothing to do with your major, but there’s a great chance that performance art brings you a sense of peace desperately needed among the stresses of college life.
The way I stumbled into my love of the creative—by accident, and in an attempt to deal with the small anxieties of daily life—may be the same way you discover a passion for classical music, drawing or acting. Even if you’re scared you won’t be “good” at whatever art you’ve signed up for, it’s important to just give it a try!
As Vincent van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”