Caroline Fears; photo by Tom Bierlein
Caroline Fears; photo by Tom Bierlein
Pre-College Summer Session

Every summer, high school students spend three weeks at MCAD finding out what college life is really like.

The Pre-College Summer Session at MCAD is a three-week, residential program that allows high school students to try out their skills at a college level. Students pursue a major and receive three college credits at the program's completion.

“By being in an artist culture, the program helped me develop my appreciation for studio art.”

What surprised you the most about the Pre-College Summer Session?

The most surprising part of the program was how much I ended up loving the crew. Genuinely everyone believed in art. Fellow students, class instructors, and administrators alike—everyone at MCAD had some sort of honest love for art. I never realized that a place like MCAD even existed, so it was very surprising to be part of it suddenly. Nobody there was perfect, but people were overwhelmingly doing their best. Since respect and admiration look different to different people, I was introduced to new ways of seeing art. Everyone had a different personal relationship to art.

Caroline Fears working on animation

Caroline working hard in the animation studio; photo by Tom Bierlein

What aspect of the program has had the biggest impact on you?

It proved to me that art ‘society’ is real. Back home, I don't know any adults who are professional artists. Online was my only source of role models. I knew of the theory, “people can make art a profession,” but I’d never seen it in person before.

By being in an artist culture, the program helped me develop my appreciation for studio art. Animation and cartoon-oriented artists tend to surround themselves with mostly other cartoon art. On the MCAD campus, and in the surrounding neighborhood, there was lots and lots of non-cartoon art: hallways were galleries, yards were full of sculptures, even a super cool museum—Mia—was right behind the Morrison building. The art history class taught me much more than I expected. I may have heard the names of some artists before, but the class put everything on an understandable timeline. Constantly being surrounded by all these other forms of art and being pushed to truly consider art, my love for it grew. Before the program, I was already a painter and sculptor but those parts of me were being pushed aside to focus on main ‘career’ goals/skills. The Pre-College Summer Session made me value the other parts of me more. If not my main art form, painting and sculpting are still important to me, they can even be used with animation.

I look forward to going back to art college because it's nice to be around people who seriously consider art.

How has your artistic practice changed since the program?

Near the beginning, my art-making habits changed. I began to loosen up. Instead of getting mad at myself for starting a new project when it would be more reasonable to force myself to finish an old one, I made the art I felt like making. Recently, I’ve been much more willing to embrace my current thoughts and creative impulses, rather than be dragged down by old ideas. I am willing to go with the flow of whatever I feel the passion to make. Self-discipline and finishing pieces are definitely not bad—those skills are something I need to have—but before, I was so worried about them I was choking myself. This experience gave me the confidence to free myself from myself.

Caroline Fears hangs out with fellow PCSS students in studio

Caroline with fellow PCSS students in one of MCAD's studios; photo by Tom Bierlein

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about attending the Pre-College Summer Session?

Your experience in the program is based on what you put into it. You can get a lot out the program, but you have to be willing to go get it. The people that stand out are the ones trying their hardest. Use your resources, ask questions, build meaningful relationships and take risks. If you want to go to a pre-college program, MCAD's is a really good option. Go for it and go 112%!


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