Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.
Vol. 3 No. 8
Strategic National Arts Alumni Project
DataBrief provides arts educators and arts policy makers
with highlights of SNAAP data and insights
into the value of arts-school education.
Contact us for more information.

Spotlight on First-Generation Artists (Part 1)

Most college and university professionals are well aware of the differences that exist between first-generation college students and their counterparts, and the challenges that first-generation students face in trying to be successful in higher education without the resources that are available to other students.

This DataBrief describes the students who are considered “first-generation artists,” then discusses the differences between these students and their counterparts in institutional satisfaction. (Next month, we will look at the success of first-generation students in obtaining a career in the arts.) This DataBrief draws upon data from 67,978 undergraduate-level arts alumni from 140 postsecondary institutions in the United States, collected between 2011 and 2013.

Green Border

Defining First-Generation Artists

For the purposes of this brief, first-generation artists are defined as alumni who responded no to the question, “were/are either of your parents, guardians, or close relatives professional artists?”

Almost four-fifths (79%) are first-generation artists, meaning they did NOT have parents, guardians, or close relatives who have been professional artists.

Green Border

Composition of First-Generation Artists (FGAs)

A slightly larger proportion of Black (84%), Hispanic/Latino (84%), and Asian alumni (82%) are first-generation artists, compared to White graduates (79%). Another way of looking at this is that 21% of White graduates are first-generation artists, compared to 16% (Black and Hispanic/Latino) or 18% (Asian) among alumni from other racial and ethnic groups.

There is also a difference in the majors selected by first-generation artists as opposed to the others.

Table 1: Major degree areas for first-generation artists and their counterparts

Major Area FGA Not FGA
Architecture 82% 18%
Art History 79% 21%
Arts Administration 80% 20%
Arts Education (Art, Music, Dance, Drama) 81% 19%
Creative and Other Writing 80% 20%
Dance 78% 22%
Design 79% 21%
Fine and Studio Arts (including Photography) 79% 21%
Media Arts 79% 21%
Music History, Composition, and Theory 78% 22%
Music Performance 77% 23%
Theater 82% 18%
Other Arts 80% 20%
Total 79% 21%

First-generation artists seem slightly more likely to complete degrees in architecture and theater, while their counterparts seem more inclined to complete degrees in fine and studio arts and music performance. This may possibly be due to first-generation artists choosing majors with a clearer and less “risky” career path.

Green Border

First-Generation Artists and Institutional Satisfaction

In the SNAAP survey, alumni are asked to respond to several items regarding their satisfaction with various aspects of their education at the institution from which they graduated, as well as a few items that provide a more general impression of the students’ satisfaction overall. The next figure shows that first-generation artists were less satisfied on seven of the ten measures, while sharing the same opinion on three.

Figure 1: Satisfaction with various aspects of education at institution (Click to view)

First-generation artists rated their overall experience lower than their counterparts, and were slightly more likely to say that if they could start over again, they wouldn’t attend the same institution. First-generation artists were also less likely to feel well prepared for further education. These findings indicate that institutions may need to provide resources to assist those students with less outside understanding of the arts, in order to enhance their institutional experience.

Green Border

SNAAP News: 2015 Survey in the Field

The 2015 SNAAP survey launched the second week of October and will be open until late November. Arts graduates of these schools have received an invitation to participate:

  • Alberta College of Art + Design
  • NSCAD University
  • Arizona State University
  • OCAD University
  • Art Academy of Cincinnati
  • Pacific Northwest College of Art
  • Art Center College of Design
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Brigham Young University
  • Ringling College of Art and Design
  • California College of the Arts
  • San Diego State University
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • San Francisco Art Institute
  • College of Charleston
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Columbus College of Art and Design
  • School of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston
  • DePaul University
  • School of Visual Arts
  • Drexel University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • Eckerd College
  • St. Olaf College
  • Emily Carr University of Art and Design
  • Texas Christian University
  • Evergreen State College
  • UCLA, School of Theater, Film & Television
  • Florida International University
  • University of Iowa
  • Indiana University Bloomington Jacobs School of Music
  • University of Montevallo
  • Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University
  • University of New Haven
  • Maine College of Art
  • University of New Mexico
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Memphis College of Art
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts
  • Messiah College
  • University of North Texas
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne
  • Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • New Hampshire Institute of Art
  • University of Victoria
  • New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts
  • Utah State University
  • Northern State University

This DataBrief was written by Zach Morgan, with assistance from Alex Frenette, Sally Gaskill, and Angie Miller.

Green Border
Facebook Twitter
Indiana University School of Education
Center for Postsecondary Research
1900 E. Tenth Street | Bloomington, IN 47406-7512
Subscribe me.
Unsubscribe me.
White circles on a gray background