Campus Update: Santa Fe University of Art and Design


As I’m sharing notes from some of my recent college visits I keep getting the question, “What can we do if visiting every school isn’t possible for my family?”  Last week I took advantage of one possibility – attending a local presentation made by an out-of-town university. Frequently colleges will offer information sessions with admissions representatives in your town.  If you have indicated an interested in a particular school, they will often invite you to these sessions which may be held at local hotels, restaurants, or meeting areas.  You can also find an event schedule on most admissions websites or you can always call the college’s admissions office and ask. Last week I attended a lunch specifically for independent admissions counselors in the Houston area to learn more about Santa Fe University of Art and Design.  Lisa Hamilton, the field representative for Texas was there to tell us about the school, its programs, and the type of students who thrive at Santa Fe University.  We saw short videos about popular departments including film, creative writing, graphic design, contemporary music, and performing arts.  We learned more about the school’s academic requirements and the admissions process, which requires either a portfolio or audition depending on your choice of program.  Finally, Lisa talked about her experiences as a student, when the school was the College of Santa Fe, and she answered any questions we had. This meeting wasn’t the same as walking around the campus, but with almost two hours of information, I know a lot more abut this university than I did before.  No, I didn’t get to meet current students or walk around to gauge the campus vibe.  But I am more familiar with the unique characteristics of the school and the types of students who would be interested in learning more. Santa Fe University of Art and Design believes students need a well-rounded education as well as hands-on experience and instruction from professors who are still active in their fields.  Students can earn Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees.  All students must complete the liberal arts core curriculum that promotes creative thinking, problem solving, communication, and thought in a wide range of areas. I learned enough to make me want to know more about this university.  Here are some of the highlights:
  • Santa Fe is home to over 300 galleries and is the second largest art market in the nation, an ideal place for art and design students to study.
  • There are no competitive athletic teams, but students enjoy intermural sports.  Dodge ball is very popular on campus.
  • SFUAD is a small school with under 1,000 students.  The international population is growing and the student body is has a diverse mix.
  • There are multiple opportunities for study abroad.  In addition students can earn dual certificates from Nuova Accademia di belle Arti Milano in Milan or Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Most students come with a focus on art and want to communicate through performance, film, music, writing, or visual arts.  They come to work.
  • SFUAD looks out for its students.  If a student misses three classes an academic advisor will knock on his or her door and find out what’s going on.  Struggling students are given help and it is difficult to fall through the cracks.
  • Classes are collaborative not lecture based.  Students have access to experts and are mentored with a hands-on approach.
  • Films like True Grit, No Country For Old Men, and Cowboys & Aliens were made in the professional sound stages connected to the SFUAD campus.
  • Interested high school students can experience the campus and learn more during the summer Art Fest program.
  • In the Moving Images (film) department students have an average of seven internships before they graduate.  Job prospects for these students are good and many have jobs lined up by graduation.
  • Students in the contemporary music department are challenged to do all aspects – music, recording, and sound engineering—so they will be prepared for a variety of jobs.
Lisa kept saying, “You have to see it,” and she’s right; before I could know whether Santa Fe University of Art and Design is the type of school I’d enthusiastically endorse, I need to see it. But what I heard made me want to learn more.  Our information session was great, but it can’t take the place of an actual visit.  Before you decide to spend four years and thousands of dollars at a school, you need to visit the campus and find out if it is really a good fit. An out-of-town information session may be enough for you to decide if that is a school worth keeping on your list.  After an hour or two, you will either leave wanting to know more and ready to plan a visit.  Or you will leave thankful that you only spent a few hours and a drive across town because it just wasn’t the school you thought it would be.  Either way, these sessions can be a valuable part of your college research.]]>

Comments (3)

  • How do these students normally fund for their degrees? With the financial aid cut for liberal arts studies what advice do you have? In Nakoo (, we struggle everyday to come up with creative opportunities for our students to raise funds for their higher education without taking out loans.

    • These students pay for their degrees just like any other student at any other university. Some have savings. Some have scholarships. Some take out loans and others work.
      Yes, it is a challenge for families to fund higher education without loans. But this challenge is not unique to art schools or liberal arts programs.

  • Thanks for the reply. Although the challenges are not unique, what is happening to our overall economy, it is unique. A recent study found, one out of five graduates will be stuck in minimum paying jobs and will be pushed to poverty. This has a huge social ripple effect.
    More financing innovations are needed for higher education students. We are not-for profit and looking to help more students to crowdfund their scholarship. Would you be interested to partner with you to support more students?

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