On-Campus Housing Gives High School Students a Taste of College Life During Summer of Art

Blog, Featured, Programs | March 13, 2024

Otis College residence hall

Otis College’s Summer of Art program gives creative high school students a peek into what life at art and design college is like. Days are spent in studios or specialized classes in everything from fashion design to animation. For high schoolers who are considering a career in art and design, or who just want to explore their artistic side, Summer of Art is a great opportunity to develop technique, acquire new skills and tools, and learn directly from working artists and designers. 

For full immersion in the pre-college experience, there’s a housing option that includes furnished, suite-style rooms in Otis’s Residence Hall—an award-winning, LEED-platinum-certified dormitory that was thoughtfully designed with light-filled rooms, ample lounge and study spaces, and a safe and secure location on campus. Residential Summer of Art students also get three weekday meals and two weekend meals per day at Elaine’s Dining Hall, which specializes in made-from-scratch, sustainably-sourced food options that cater to a wide variety of dietary preferences. 

While parents can rest assured that Summer of Art residential students will be well-fed and housed during the month-long program, there are other significant benefits for these teens. 

Creative Community

Students painting in classroom

The intimate class size of around 20 students not only ensures everyone gets personalized attention from instructors, but also that they get to know each other as they work. Creating in community, alongside people who share the same passion for art and design, is one of the reasons why so many Summer of Art students return every year. 

“Having roommates and living with other people is a big experience for our Summer of Art participants,” says Melinda Patton, director of Residence Life and Housing at Otis College, who coordinates the staff and Otis student resident assistants who work around the clock during the program. Part of their work involves pairing like-minded students as roommates. “At the end, they all have new best friends for life.” 

They also get social time during weekend field trips to museums, amusement parks, film studios, and other fun activities that are organized by the Residence Life staff. By being on-campus for the duration of the program, these Summer of Art students get a fully immersive creative experience, with all the time, space, and access they need to explore and develop their practices. They also get to engage with a diverse population of other students they otherwise may never have met.


Student working in fashion studio

For some residential Summer of Art students, it’s their first time away from home for a substantial length of time. They have to do their laundry on their own—Residence Life staff host a how-to workshop—and submit their class assignments on time without a parent’s nudging. There are grocery stores, coffee shops, and restaurants within walking distance, and the beach is just a short bike or Uber ride away. 

However, there are important rules for leaving campus: no student can leave on their own—they must pair up with a buddy and use the Orah monitoring app for checking in and out with staff. Even parents who want to visit their student will have to make a formal request through Residence Life and Housing. There’s also a 9:30 p.m. curfew with nightly bed checks to make sure every student is safe and accounted for. “We have really good partnerships with the parents,” says Patton. “We’re supporting their children and helping them grow into independent adults.”


Student working in fashion studio

Being in campus housing during Summer of Art gives students easy access to the Millard Sheets Library, labs, shops, classrooms, and the dining hall, all of which are open and operational during the month-long program. Although the students get free time after the last class ends at 4:30 p.m., they’re often spending the time between then and curfew working on their projects in the Otis facilities.

Los Angeles

Student drawing on an easel

One of the best value-adds to the residential option at Summer of Art are the weekend field trips and weekday excursions throughout Los Angeles. Past weekend trips, which are mandatory for residential students, have been to Disneyland, the Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Paramount Studios, among other places. During the week, residential and commuter students are invited to fun excursions like bowling, golfing, or exploring specific neighborhoods. 

Every summer, the Residence Life staff plans these fun extracurricular activities for the students, many of whom are returning, to ensure everyone gets to experience something new and different. “We can pretty much do anything in L.A., which is fantastic,” Patton says.

Otis Support

Student artwork hanging on the wall

In addition to the amenities and fun activities, Summer of Art residential students are fully supported while they’re at Otis—not only by their instructors, Residence Life staff, and RAs, but also by the physician, nurses, and therapists in the on-campus Student Health and Wellness Center. Dr. Julie Spencer, who is double board-certified in pediatrics and adolescent medicine, has spent her career refining her practice around helping creative young adults. If a student gets ill or even a little homesick, there’s an army of support to address their needs. 

At the culmination of the month-long program, students exhibit their work for their peers, friends, and family to see. “I’m super impressed with the level of artwork that we see at the end of summer,” Patton says. “It’s always mind-blowing how much work they’re actually able to get done. You can see where they started and where they ended. It’s a huge, drastic change.” 

For more information about Summer of Art, visit otis.edu/summer-art.

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