For many students across the United States, graduation hinges on their ability to complete some form of a project. For those studying business, marketing, political science, English or any of the STEM fields, this means completing an internship, study or research project and then writing a paper on it. Some colleges and universities might even require their students to give a 20-to-30-minute presentation on their subject.
For art students, this is not the case.
Similar to the other students, those of us studying the arts must complete a senior project, or thesis. Additionally, like other students, we must pitch our idea for our work or films to our professors for approval the semester before.
The difference lies in how the projects are graded and how graduation requirements are fulfilled. Unless non-art majors decide to completely slack on their paper and put zero effort into their presentation, they will most likely graduate. Granted, their effort reflects on their grade and there is the risk that they might graduate with a lower GPA than anticipated, but they will still graduate.
Art students, and students in art-related majors, face an entirely different process. Yes, their project is still graded on form and technique...after all, the senior project is supposed to represent all that you have learned throughout your time in school. However, grading doesn't just end there. For arts students, many schools require that their work must get accepted into an exhibition or screening in order to graduate. This means that not only do you have to create work that your professors like, you also have to present your work to a team of independent jurors for them to select for a show. The fate of whether you graduate or not lies in the hands of 2 or 3 people who don't know you or your work. It's completely nerve-wracking.
This is not to say that your poli-sci 30-page capstone paper was easy. Not at all. While you were spending hours in the library researching and typing away, we were in the studio painting, developing, drawing and filming. The amount of work is the same. However, us art students do have that extra step and our graduation rests in the hands of several individuals for them to pick and choose.
So if you have an art friend in your life, and they are a senior, chances are that they are 110 percent stressed out and haven't slept in days. Do us a favor and refrain from cracking the usual "art is easy" jokes and buy us a coffee instead. The gesture will be met with immense gratitude and who knows, maybe you'll spot your name during the end credits of your friend's film.