One Art Student's Experience

`ONCE I got into college I realized how lucky I was to have had a high school with Advanced Placement art.'' So says Melissa Strickland, who returned this fall for her second year at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga. Melissa received a 5, the highest mark, for her Advanced Placement (AP) Studio Art portfolio in 1988. The University of Georgia awarded her 10 units of elective credit. But she was still required to complete four basic freshman art courses.

``I think they should have exempted me from the entry courses,'' Melissa observes in a telephone interview. She says that the two courses she has completed have not caused her to challenge herself in ways she had hoped. Being praised in college for works that she feels are not her best, Melissa confesses, ``I began to slack off, and my work just has not been what it could be.''

To Melissa, it is the challenge and drive she experienced in high-school AP that is now lacking. ``You have to do [the AP portfolio] yourself, and you have to challenge yourself more to do well.''

Melissa emphasizes that the challenge of AP falls solely on the student. ``As far as I was concerned, I was pretty much on my own,'' she says.

From her first year in high school in Spartanburg, S.C., Melissa knew that she would be putting together an AP portfolio. It was the first step to reaching her goal: professional achievement in graphic design.

The most difficult part of the project, she discovered, was the preparation during her senior year of high school. ``All of the first semester was spent just planning [her portfolio],'' she says. As opposed to submitting a basic portfolio of various works, she decided to put hers together in the design of a complete yearbook.

``I spent at least three hours a day, everyday, for the whole second semester putting it together,'' she says proudly.

``I think that every student should have the opportunity to do AP,'' concludes Melissa.

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