The hidden costs of being an art student

Lessons learned from a second-year art student

The outside of Renaissance Hall located in downtown Fargo.

Working toward an art degree at North Dakota State is incredible. Renaissance Hall (where art and architecture students take classes) is gorgeous, the professors are helpful and you’ll never forget the people you meet in Renaissance Hall. The only thing is, it’s really expensive to take some required courses, leading an art student to realize there are a lot of hidden costs in being an art student that were not initially apparent.

Extra Cost of Art Supplies

No one necessarily tells an art student this, but a lot of money is put toward buying supplies. For example, an art student taking a drawing class at NDSU will have to spend roughly $150.00 on all supplies needed for that one class. Though all the supplies can be bought in an all-encompassing kit (which is generally cheaper than buying all of the supplies individually), most of the supplies an art student ends up buying aren’t even put to use the entire duration of the semester.

Group Projects

Within the department, group projects are often required. These projects help demonstrate that people can work well in a group together. The art department stresses that students may find themselves working with people in the future, so it’s better they get the experience now.

What professors don’t tell art students is that even though you’re in college and everyone else you’re working with is in college working toward a degree, some people choose not to do their part in the project. One person ends up picking up the slack since they don’t want the whole group to fail or to receive a lower grade because of someone simply not doing the work that’s required.  

One other thing with group projects is that, sometimes, a group has to buy additional materials. Sometimes one person will purchase the materials because they’re dedicated to doing well on the project. However, when that one person buys those materials and tells the other people how much it costs (hoping they will pay to split the cost) those other partners sometimes choose not to pay them back and the person who purchased all the supplies end up footing the bill for the whole project.

Time, Time, Time

On top of all the other homework for generals and other art projects a student has, they have to make sure their projects are completed on time. It can get hectic and it’s sometimes hard to keep everything straight. A lot of art students I know, have mentioned that most of their free time is spent working on projects or homework for other classes. If we don’t keep a strict calendar, some projects and other important assignments will sneak up on you.

With frustrations aside, I truly love working toward an art degree at NDSU. There are so many opportunities within this department. It’s a wonderful community and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I am in no way trying to bash the art department. There are just some things that were never mentioned to me that I want to bring to light for others thinking about pursuing an art degree. The issues listed above are in no means unique to NDSU. Art students across the country buy their own art supplies and grapple with an individual’s equal load for group projects. If passionate about what they’re doing, art students take it in stride. A future of doing what they love and have set out to do after they graduate is in front of them.

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