Where can you find fashion's next big stars? Milling about the halls of the country's most prestigious colleges, of course. If you're looking to enroll at a school in the hopes of making a splash in the industry, the process of choosing the right place can be a daunting task (and even make or break your chances of success). To help guide you in the right direction, we tapped a true expert, Paula Wallace, the president and founder of Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.
Wallace founded SCAD in 1978 and quickly cemented it as a leading fashion school—in fact, Fashionista recently ranked it as one of 2016's best fashion schools in the world. (The college's expertise is not limited to fashion, however: It also boasts programs in advertising, architecture, sculpture, and scores of other creative fields as well.)
Whether you're a high school student, a college grad looking for graduate studies, or someone wanting to go back to school and switch career paths, Wallace's advice will help you choose the right place for you.
Scroll down to read our interview with SCAD President Paula Wallace!
WHO WHAT WEAR: What's your best advice for students trying to decide on the right school?
PAULA WALLACE: My advice is to ask questions in abundance! Is the university nonprofit? Is the university accredited and in 100% compliance? Is there an emphasis on extended learning, where experiences transcend classroom hours to include inspired events, exhibitions, and creative engagement? Does the university offer advanced study and provide elevated resources? Seeking information and answers will reveal the true quality and character of an institution and help you find the right fit.
WWW: Some people in fashion skip formal education to delve right into real-world work experience. What do you think is the most important value of going to a fashion school?
PW: The value of an education is epitomized in the success of a university’s alumni. At SCAD, 98% of spring 2015 graduates were employed or pursuing further education shortly after graduation. Real-world engagement and professional practice are embedded in the SCAD education.
WWW: What's your best advice for students on picking a major?
PW: I have found that college and career success naturally evolve when you love what you do. Find what it is that most amazes and inspires you, and harness that inclination in application.
WWW: What's the most important thing students can do in school to ensure they have a job when they graduate?
PW: View your academic career as a precursor to your professional one. Seize opportunities to participate in portfolio critiques, pursue internships and establish industry contacts, attend events with potential employers, and collaborate on real-world projects.
WWW: What are some common mistakes students make when picking a school?
PW: When deciding where to go for college, there is no substitute for thoughtfully considering your criteria and what you most want out of your education. In addition to asking questions, visit the university in person: Immerse yourself in its spirit and learn its stories to gain that firsthand feel. For example, throughout the year, we host open-house events called SCAD Days at our campuses so that prospective students and their families gain an authentic sense of what life is like here. They explore our buildings, interact with professors and students, learn about our academic resources and student services.
How did you choose your college? Tell us in the comments below, and then shop the best of SCAD's student work online!
Opening Image: SCAD