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Should parents ever pay for online art courses?

Aren’t those free college certificate programs good enough, if an artist has real talent? Can you provide information to help guide my son to the best free online classes, or at least cheap online classes if he insists on taking online art courses? I do not see a need for anyone to take college courses in art. Maybe for credit toward something like architecture, a student could do online design classes or something. I would prefer that at university my son study something like IT (information technology) that will repay my investment.

Theresa Perry

in Online Courses

1 answer

1 answer

Justin Parker on July 27, 2018

Yes, a worthwhile online art course may be free or cheap these days...for those who want to show and perhaps sell their creative work while earning a living in something like Website Design, where artistic talent is valuable but somewhat secondary. With “affordable” college courses running over US$1000 each, it makes sense to pay for job-related classes and look for as many inexpensive alternatives as possible.

Certificate courses offered online free are a good bargain for universities, students, and employers in several ways. They confirm that students know how to use computers and the Internet. They offer dedicated students the preparation they need to “test out” of as many on-campus classes as possible. They also help the best universities identify students who are likely to succeed in their on-campus programs.

Choosing the best free online class depends on what you want to study, and “art” covers a lot of ground. Music, dance, and drama are arts too. The visual arts that best lend themselves to online learning are those, like photography, graphic design, and architectural design, with a strong technical element. According to Class Central < >, in the spring of 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a free twelve-week course in the History of Architecture, California Institute of the Arts offers one in the History of Graphic Design, and Stanford offers one in Interactive Software for Digital Arts.

“CalArts” is a fairly prestigious school, well rated for traditional drawing, painting, and sculpture courses on campus as well as design classes online, so for a student who wants to paint landscape pictures while also completing an IT-related graphic design training course CalArts might be ideal. It is, however, only regionally accredited.

A cheap online class in drawing offered by some museum, Art Institute, or social group for teens may be more valuable than those “How To Draw It” books sold in hobby stores in building the teenager’s social network, but a free college certificate program might be even better for that purpose. With practice and attention almost anyone can learn drawing.

Low-tech commercial arts courses like interior design still have some potential value for job seekers, but those fields have become overcrowded and may be more competitive than the more STEM-related arts currently are. Young art students who have math, science, or computer skills may do well to apply any financial aid they get to a STEM degree program.

Larry Warrena year ago

Granted: there are a lot of unemployed (or irrelevantly employed) art historians in the world right now. Also granted: who needs an interior design certificate when the talented artist with a degree in art history is applying her talent to managing the used furniture store.

That said, with all due respect to you Sir or Madame, I think you are unfairly discouraging this potential artist. He may have real talent for art and not math or science. If so, even if he earns a degree in math and qualifies for a job teaching math, he might end up living on whatever kind of living he can make selling his paintings. In that case it would be the “STEM” degree that would be a waste of the parents’ or the taxpayers’ money.

Maybe not, if he meets future rich arts patrons in his tech course. Maybe he’ll marry a rich physicist.

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