Mats Dahlberg '19As the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA?
I came to MPA in Kindergarten.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I chose Columbia College Chicago because it has a strong dance and visual arts program and they would let me be involved in both. I wanted to go to a college in a city surrounded by a vibrant art scene and so many museums and traveling exhibits especially because I’m studying arts. Columbia is right in the middle of the city on Michigan Avenue and has great speakers and events including some notable alumni.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I’m excited to explore my independence, especially in a new city. I am very excited to expand my circle and meet a new very diverse crowd of people with different viewpoints than I’ve been exposed to. I’m excited to have my ideas challenged and add to my skillset with education from new teachers and more high-level art classes. I’d love to take a printmaking class or a textile and fiber works class, something that I haven’t had the opportunity for at MPA, but have the basic artistic foundation for because of the Fine Arts education here. (And I’m excited to try all the pizza Chicago has to offer).

What did you appreciate most about the college counseling process at MPA?
There was time set aside every other day to lead us through the whole process from browsing colleges, to editing essays, to actually weighing pros and cons and making a decision. Ms. Pederson was so helpful to me and had such a tailored approach to each student. I did a lot of research and on my own, but she still had many helpful insights into my suggestions and acted as a real guiding light through the whole process.

What about your MPA experience has best prepared you for college?
MPA has prepared me for college in terms of classroom discussions. MPA and the teachers here have really encouraged me to find my voice and feel comfortable sharing my opinions with the group even if they might be contrary to what other people are saying. Additionally, the teachers at MPA have taught me to really listen to what other students are saying and not immediately start defending my position, but to truly understand where the other person is coming from and why they hold the opinion they do.

What is your advice for MPA’s Class of 2031 (kindergartners)?
Since I started at MPA in kindergarten, my advice would be to not take life too seriously and have fun and enjoy childhood while you can. Also, your friends in kindergarten will not necessarily be your best friends in senior year, but always give people second chances and learn forgiveness early because you will all be together for a long time. Finally, if you’re ever feeling bummed out, change your outfit and get ready to change the world.

Insight from Ms. Pederson, Director of College Counseling:
While Mats had very specific criteria to guide him in his college search, he still considered a number of schools that offered the programs and environment he desired. As a future fine arts major, he had to prepare and submit a portfolio of his visual artwork along with his regular applications. Before senior year, Mats completed a summer portfolio development program at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, and as a senior he both presented his own art show and was recognized multiple times for entries in juried art exhibits. He also met with college reps visiting MPA who provided individual portfolio review before he had to submit his work. At MPA, Mats was recognized by the faculty as a junior with the “Think Independently” Mission Award, and went on to graduate with a Certificate of Distinction in Fine Arts, recognizing his work in visual arts, dance and music. It was exciting to see his excellence in those areas, as well as in academics, recognized with scholarships by the schools where he ultimately applied. While we will miss his many contributions to our community, I’m excited to see how Mats continues to grow as he studies at Columbia and embraces life in Chicago.

The 55 members of the Class of 2019 were offered admission to 107 different colleges and universities in 30 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada. They will attend 44 different schools in 18 states and Washington, D.C. Learn more about MPA’s College Counseling program here!

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