I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Illustration with a minor in Computer Graphics from Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia. I started out my college career at the University of Delaware as an art major. I thought I wanted more of that "campus-y" feel, but after a year, I realized I wanted more art. To be quite honest, had I done it in reverse, I probably would have sat at Moore after the first year thinking, I thought I wanted more of that "artsy" feel. But really what 18 year old truly knows what they want?
I remember completing my first assignment. I placed my project in line with the rest of my classmates and immediately thought, I'm out of my league. Certainly that wasn't true. I deserved to be there just as much as anyone else. And, as my high school friends at other colleges and universities were sitting in 45 minute lectures, I was in six our studio classes drawing everything from detailed pen and ink botanical illustrations to sitting kiln side waiting for my latest pottery creation to finish firing.
All in all, it was a great experience. I enjoyed my classes, had fun with my friends and discovered that I have a "thing" for art history.
Was college necessary? Did I learn anything there that I could not have just figured out on my own?
Honestly, I'm mostly where I am today as an artist by trial and error. I picked up a camera and started shooting. I took workshops here and there and read tutorials. Most of what I enjoy and do creatively, is what I taught myself. So why bother going?
Because of the single most import thing I learned in art school. How to take criticism.
I currently have the opportunity to work with many people who come from a variety of life experiences, and I have found it astounding how many people get personally offended if you don't agree with them or disagree with any part of or all of their approach. It's called life skills people. They're super important.
Putting something out in the world that you have spent hours of time and energy on, hours of your heart and soul on, and have it critiqued by fellow artists, is an experience that never leaves you.
You learn to not take things personally, because it's not a comment on who you are. You learn that people have opinions, and you don't have to agree with them. You learn that occasionally someone makes a good point. And, you learn that sometimes you should still just follow your heart, because despite the nay sayers, it's the direction you want to go.
Okay, so that's more than 1 thing, and I know you're not going to suddenly take the time to go to art school, but learn to let it go.