So You Got into College—Now What?

College admission season is here, or has already been here for many early decision applicants. For those of you who have been accepted to your dream school, like the University of Rochester, it’s time to celebrate this amazing accomplishment in your life. And it’s also time to start thinking about what you want to do once you are shipped off to the school of your dreams in the fall. No, I’m not saying that you have to decide right now exactly what you want to study, because trust me, almost nobody knows. But it’s good to start thinking about what classes you want to take as a freshman and what academic areas are interesting to you.

Gallery and Organ

Memorial Art Gallery, affiliated with the University of Rochester


Choosing a random class
There are many majors at Rochester to choose from, but I want to talk about a major that I never really heard anyone talk about before: art history. When I was in high school, I had no idea what it was because none of my teachers, counselors, or friends talked about it. I knew there was studio art where artistic and talented people made artistic and cool things, and I obviously knew that one could major in history. So when I had to pick classes as a freshman, I picked a random art history class just because I had never heard of art history before, and those two words, art and history together, really fascinated me. And that’s how my road as an art history major began.

I like to think that I got lucky discovering my passion and love for art history—or maybe it was fate that led me to this random art history class. Whatever it was, I’m so glad that I was spontaneous enough in that moment. This type of spontaneity is important as a freshman, especially at Rochester, which has so many different areas of study to explore. Don’t be afraid to enroll in a class that may be outside of what you are familiar with or thought you wanted to study. Almost everyone changes their major in college, even two or three times, because their interests change and it’s important to know that change is okay.

Now, if you are interested in studying art history or have no idea what it is and want to learn more, here are a few important things I learned when studying art history.

1. You must love writing.
I’m not talking about fiction or creative writing; I’m talking about nonfiction, descriptive, and close-analysis writing. In high school, the closest type of writing that I did compared to what I’m doing now was in my AP English Language and Composition class. If you loved that class, like I did, then you will most likely enjoy art history classes. Art history is all about analyzing and describing a piece of art, or multiple pieces of art, and being able to express your observations about the subject in a clear and intelligent voice. I once had an assignment in which I had to describe a line. No historical background, not even information about the artist—just describing the purest form of art (and I had a lot of fun with it). So if you love writing and you firmly believe that hours of strenuous work that goes into writing is all worth it in the end, then you should check out art history classes.

2. You must be willing to read.
I didn’t say you have to love reading, like you have to for writing, but you must be at least willing to read. Most, if not all, art history classes depend on class discussions on reading assignments. And trust me, some readings are very long and difficult to get through, but it is important that you are not allergic to reading, like I know some people are. I must confess: I don’t love reading, but I’m willing to read for my classes because they are about a subject that I’m interested in. And believe it or not, reading helped improve my writing.

3. You don’t have to know how to make art.
I certainly don’t. I once had to take a drawing class in high school, and I absolutely hated it because I realized 1) a blank piece of paper and a pencil in my hand weren’t enough to keep me sitting for more than ten minutes, and 2) everything I drew looked like somebody sat on them. So you don’t have to be an artistic and talented person who makes artistic and cool things to study art history, but you obviously do have to have an interest in art.

So there you go, the most important things I learned while studying art history. And if it didn’t make you want to exit this page and find something actually worthwhile to do, like watching all ten seasons of Friends on Netflix, then you should consider an art history class as a viable option for your freshman year. The most important thing to remember is: take chances and don’t be afraid to explore all of your academic interests!

About the author

YooJung Chun

I'm a member of the Class of 2018, and I am majoring in art history. I was born in Seoul, South Korea, before moving to Chicago. I'm the Publicity Chair for the Korean American Students' Association, and I also take piano lessons at the Eastman School of Music.

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