When it comes to fashion schools, there’s no doubt that names like FIT, Parsons and FIDM come to mind as being some of the best universities for any fashionista wanting to turn her passion into a career. Let me be the first to tell you that having any one of these schools on your resume is not your only chance at breaking into the fashion business — nor does it guarantee a foot in the door! There are, of course, many other options out there, but allow me to bring to your attention Kent State University of Kent, Ohio. If you’ve yet to hear of this school, then you may be wondering where on the map the city of Kent (or the state of Ohio, for that matter) even is. The Fashion School at KSU is a force to be reckoned with in this industry, as are its students — including yours truly! As a senior getting ready to step foot into the real world of fashion, not only do I already have a list of industry connections, but I feel completely prepared — all thanks to the education and opportunities I’ve had as a fashion student at KSU. In an effort to share all that this school offers to fashionistas all over the country, I’ve compiled a list of the top reasons to love Kent State University’s Fashion Program — and why anyone searching for the perfect fashion school should seriously consider this Midwestern gem.
1. The Fashion School at KSU offers a diverse, well-rounded program.
Officially titled The Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, Kent State’s Fashion School is named after the iconic duo of fashion designer Shannon Rodgers and businessman Jerry Silverman, whose funds helped to initiate the creation of The Fashion School. There are two degrees offered through the school; students can either pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design or a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising. Design students have the opportunity to choose between two concentrations: conceptual or technical design. Both merchandising and design students select specific class electives outside of their majors as a small portion of their overall coursework at KSU, which helps to create a somewhat liberal, diversified educational experience. As far as fashion classes, the list that Kent State offers its students is an exciting one that touches all major aspects of the industry — Fashion Branding, Product Development, Fashion Forecasting, Fashion Show Productions, and Planning & Buying are just a few examples that fall on this comprehensive list. Coming this fall, The KSU Fashion School will also be offering a Fashion Media minor. On top of all of that, students have opportunities to get involved with the university’s fashion magazine, runway shows and various design competitions, among many other things!
2. KSU is ranked by Fashionista.com as #3 on their list of The Top 20 Fashion Schools in the country…and #13 in the world.
Just last year in 2011, Fashionista.com ranked Kent State’s Fashion Program as third in the country–just behind Parsons in the first place spot and the Fashion Institute of Technology in second! Not to mention, on their list of The Top 50 Fashion Schools in the World, Kent State sits at number thirteen. A direct quote from Fashionista.com states that “With study abroad programs in Paris and Milan, a huge endowment for scholarships, and a high-profile program allowing you to complete a fashion-focused undergraduate and MBA in fashion-focused business in just five years, this school is one of the top American fashion schools and keeps getting better.”
3. The placement rate in the industry for KSU fashion students is an impressive 90+%…and there are notable alumni to match.
KSU fashion alumni are everywhere in the industry. Perhaps the most notable talent to come out of the KSU Fashion School is fashion designer Suede, who was crowned winner of Project Runway Season 5. Current editors at ELLE Magazine, including Deputy Editor Maggie Bullock and Senior Market Editor Jade Frampton also hail from Kent’s fashion program — the list goes on and on. After studying and interning in NYC, my own eyes have been opened to just how many KSU students end up right in the heart of the industry. I’ve met more professionals who attended Kent State than I can count! People here also don’t have to ask twice where I’m from; I tell them I’m a fashion student at Kent State University, and they know the exact school and exact program that I’m talking about.
4. KSU fashion students have the world at their finger tips.
The quantity and quality of Study Away and Study Abroad programs that Kent State offers to its fashion students is one of The Fashion School’s reputable features. One such opportunity offered to students is a semester abroad in Florence, Italy. Embedded in the curriculum for this program are trips to major European fashion capitals, including Milan, London and Paris. Kent State also has its very own satellite campus located in the Garment District of NYC, giving students the opportunity to study, intern and network in the heart of the industry — which often leads to job opportunities upon graduation. The Fashion School also has partnerships with the Paris American Academy in France and the Institute for Textiles and Clothing at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, allowing students to take courses and engage in exchange programs with these universities. As a student who has taken advantage of both the Italy and NYC programs, I have to say that these experiences have been pivotal in the quality of my overall education, and taught me more than I could or will ever learn in a classroom!
5. Kent State University’s fashion program comes equipped with a reputation, recommendations and resources.
As previously mentioned, Kent State is becoming more of a prevalent name in fashion with each academic year. This growing reputation only provides more opportunities for students, especially when it comes to landing a job after graduation. Apparel companies come to Kent State looking for young fashion designers and merchandisers. This has been a regular pattern for years — when such companies find great hires from KSU, they keep coming back for more! I can attest to getting email after email during my semesters at Kent State from advisors announcing that this company was looking for entry-level merchandisers and that company was looking for NYC summer interns. The Fashion School at Kent State University also has some fantastic resources to lend to its students. Its June F. Mohler Fashion Library has a vast range of fashion resources, including subscriptions to prestigious industry publications and access to trend forecasting services. Attached to the fashion school’s building on campus is its very own Kent State University Fashion Museum, an accredited American Museum Association facility that houses garments from the 17th century to pieces made by contemporary designers today.
This list highlights only a couple of reasons why you should know and love Kent State University’s fashion program. To check it out for yourself and perhaps to see if it’s the right university for you, you can visit The Fashion School’s website at www.fashionschool.kent.edu. And, now that you’re aware of the university’s presence, be sure to keep your ears open for the next great merchandiser or designer to come from KSU!