Is it worth taking art courses in high school?

Students often wonder if it’s worth the time and energy to take an art class in high school. Do you actually learn anything? Is it just a space where people stay busy? What do I have to gain from taking an art course in high school?


Are you wondering if it’s worth taking art courses in high school? Maybe making art is soothing and relaxing, and it’s a bit different from your “regular” academic courses like English Lit, Spanish, or Trig. And while that works for some, it may leave you wanting more. More than just a “fun” class, art is what you make of it – if you’re patient with yourself, the worst thing that could happen is that you learn a new skill!

art classroom in high school

Considering art courses in high school

1. Hidden interests and skills

I took my first art course, Intro to Drawing, during college, and it was during that class that I realized how making art helped me enter a state of “flow.” Some know “flow” as being “in the zone.” I became very present with my surroundings and my emotions, and time both slowed down, letting me become absorbed, and flew by. 

So, taking an art course in high school can help students develop skills and interests they otherwise may not have known about. You don’t have to start with drawing either. Mediums like pottery and mixed media (such as collaging) don’t require a drawing background.  

art course, high school

The skills you could develop would not only be technical (such as learning how to work with acrylic, watercolor, oil, or gouache paint) but also include “soft” aspects like flexibility, observation, and curiosity. 

2. Admissions value

With time and effort, students can submit their finished pieces to literary magazines using Submittable, contests (such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards), and local exhibitions. As you gain more confidence, you can put more time towards a supplementary portfolio to submit with college applications. 

The summer is a great time to also explore art, and it can be a very rewarding experience for building a portfolio. This article lists some programs that students could try for, including more competitive programs alongside those that help develop portfolios. 

Some schools offer AP Art and Design. At the end of the year in May, students can take an AP exam and if they earn a certain score, that can help with attaining college credit or being placed into a more advanced college course.

3. Entrepreneurial mindset

Taking art courses in high school helps students learn in a different way, which can be refreshing! Less of putting together (and breaking apart) logical arguments or recalling memorized facts, learning how to thoughtfully engage with an art object develops a problem-solving perspective that many entrepreneurs find useful. And many of them have art backgrounds as well!

Making art involves a lot of noticing. The deep level of observation that happens in most art classes (such as drawing a realistic still life or editing photos using Adobe Photoshop and then printing them on a much larger scale) helps train the eye to see real-life objects with more fluidity. This can transfer into increased outside-of-the-box thinking, which can be helpful in entrepreneurial pursuits.

drawing of an eye, art course
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Misconception with art classes

There is a misconception that art classes in high school veer on the easier side – it’s really about putting in effort and showing progress. Although measuring progress in art is subjective, progress can manifest differently: technical skill, introspection of process, development of ideas/narrative/theme, etc. The biggest thing to remember is that as long as you put in effort, allow your imagination to stretch, and make some risks, you’ll walk away with a different perspective! 

glass ball, horizon, art

Reach out if you have questions

Taking art courses in high school can be relaxing and engaging along with being something different! They can also uncover a latent skill, boost admissions value, and help you develop a valuable entrepreneurial mindset. If you’re interested in learning more, say hello by shooting us an email! 

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