Columbia College Chicago Alumni Director Sarah Schroeder

Columbia College Chicago Alumni Director Sarah Schroeder

In today’s episode of the Not Real Art Podcast, we discuss higher education in the creative arts, specifically when it comes to Sourdough’s alma mater, Columbia College Chicago, where he graduated in 1994 with a double major in graphic design and arts management.

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About the NOT REAL ART Podcast
About the NOT REAL ART Podcast

Joining us is Sarah Schroeder, Director of Alumni Relations for Columbia College on the West Coast. We discuss our shared love for Columbia College and how the institution can benefit anyone who is serious about a career in the creative arts, whether they are looking to pursue work in visual art, graphic design, fashion design, performance art, dance, theatre, comedy, digital design, gaming, AR, VR, creative writing, storytelling, filmmaking, production, or radio; you name it!

Columbia College Chicago campus sign
Columbia College Chicago campus sign
Fashion design students working in the studio

“Columbia is a college for any creative person. It’s not only design and visual art – it’s also poetry, and fiction writing, and photography, and acting, and American sign language. We have one of the most amazing American sign language interpreting programs in the country. Our curriculum runs the gamut of every creative aspect there is.” — Sarah Schroeder [0:37:29]

Sarah Schroder, Columbia College Chicago Alumni Director West Coast
Sarah Schroder, Columbia College Chicago Alumni Director West Coast

“One of the best things about Columbia is the fact that we get working professionals as faculty members. They are some of [the] most outstanding teachers you can possibly imagine.” — Sarah Schroeder [0:16:58]

The City of Chicago plays campus for students at Columbia College Chicago
The City of Chicago plays campus for students at Columbia College Chicago

If you are a creative or aspiring to be one, Columbia College Chicago is a great place to learn and master your craft. Just ask any one of the internationally acclaimed people who have attended classes at Columbia College, including countless Emmy Award winners and nominees, SNL cast member, Aidy Bryant, and hip hop legends, Kanye West and Common, not to mention the accomplished professionals behind the scenes in production, editing, and design. We have no doubt you will learn, grow, and be inspired by today’s show, so make sure not to miss it!

Manifest Culture Festival produced entirely by Columbia College students

Key Points From This Columbia College Chicago Episode:

  • An introduction to Sarah, her qualification from Columbia College, and her career trajectory.
  • How she ended up becoming the Director of Alumni Relations for Columbia College.
  • What Sarah finds so meaningful and rewarding about her role; seeing how alumni grow.
  • What Columbia imparts to graduates as they embark on careers in creative industries.
  • The value of being taught by working professionals in the field.
  • Why it is important to prepare students for real world challenges in the creative arts.
  • Sarah weighs in on whether or not an MFA is worth the money, given the rising costs of tertiary education in the creative arts.
  • The valuable networking opportunities that Columbia offers its students and alumni.
  • Who, in Sarah’s opinion, are the most famous people to have attended Columbia College.
  • Why you should choose Columbia over other colleges; the expansive creative curriculum.
  • Some of the other benefits of choosing Columbia, including the city of Chicago itself.
  • How the programming has evolved at Columbia since Sourdough graduated in the 90s.
  • How Columbia has embraced technology and digital, including video games.
  • The benefits of “jumping right into your major” and starting to create right away.
  • Learn about some of the resources that Columbia offers its students, such as the student-led urban arts festival, Manifest.
  • With Manifest going virtual thanks to COVID-19, visitors can enjoy it in their own time.
  • Find out how Columbia adapted and managed to pivot quickly during COVID.
  • Sarah reflects on how the creative output of students will be influenced by the pandemic.
  • Sarah and Sourdough discuss the role that artists play in creating the culture of the future.
  • Being a creative versus an artist; why the term ‘creative’ is more inclusive.
  • The importance of training students to solve problems in creative ways, not just the technical aspects of being an artist in the traditional sense.
  • Sourdough emphasizes the importance of nurturing and encouraging creativity.
  • Sarah shares what she is working on, including a new alumni orientation for the classes of 2020 and 2021.
Campus street art mural

“Columbia is a college for creatives. The degree that they earn can take them any number of places.” — Sarah Schroeder [0:13:49]

“Your education is an investment in yourself, and it’s an investment in your entire career.” — Sarah Schroeder [0:21:14]

New student lounge

“Video games are a multibillion-dollar industry. Video games make more money than film and television, so it’s not just ‘follow your passion,’ it’s ‘follow the money.’ Make a career out of this video game world!” — Sarah Schroeder [0:45:36]

“We are training our students to author the culture of their times. That is part of our mission statement.” — Sarah Schroeder [0:59:43]

“Columbia is training students not just in the technical aspects of drawing, writing, fashion design, etcetera. We are training our students to solve problems in a creative way, and that is what companies are looking for.” — Sarah Schroeder [1:02:12]

Columbia College Chicago

“These days, every single [creative] major has business classes that are required. Columbia is putting in a lot of effort to make sure that our students know how to write up a business plan, have their portfolios together, and can negotiate their salaries. There are business courses that are required for every major now. We are preparing students [for the real world] in that way.” — Sarah Schroeder [0:18:46]

Columbia College Chicago Campus
Columbia College Chicago Campus

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

“I particularly like referring to Columbia as a college for creatives because, if you think about it, [being] a creative doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an artist in the traditional sense. You could be a creative, but maybe you are not going out there and painting murals or writing poetry. You can also be creative in almost any career.” — Sarah Schroeder [1:00:56]

Scott "Sourdough" Power

Scott “Sourdough” Power is the the creator and executive producer of NotRealArt.com. He is also the co-founder of Crewest Studio a digital media company in Los Angeles dedicated to creative culture and the $2T creative economy.