I'm 19 years old, I live in NZ, and I'm planning on applying to several art schools + universities next year. Tl;dr below.
I was a straight-A student throughout high school and discovered art a little later on than most - in my senior year, I took AS (Junior-level, basically) Painting and got 100 percent in my CIE (cambridge international) exams. I was very interested in going to art school, but there is so much negativity attached to it ('you'll never get a job', 'art degrees are useless', etc.) so I decided to try a joint humanities/science degree. I hated it almost immediately, barely went to classes, but still managed to scrape an A, two Bs and a C with a couple of days of study before the mid year exams.
At this point I decided to f*** practicality and give art a chance - I dropped out four weeks in to the second semester to get a job to save up for a visit to some art schools in the US.
Here's my worry: since I dropped out after the two-week add/drop/swap deadline, I'm still going to get my papers graded - DNS. Did not sit. Zero. Since I'm going to need some sort of scholarship to go to my top choice schools (SVA, CCA), I'm really worried about the effect this will have on my college GPA. Would I be able to apply to schools as a first-time freshman, disregarding my time spent at university entirely? Or is this a huge no-no?
TL;DR I got straight As in high school but messed up my first-year college grades completely, can/should I disregard these and apply to art schools as a first time freshman?
Put it this way: Jason Manley didn't finish high school and dropped out of art school. Now what does that tell you?
In short answer: Yes.
Long answer: You will, however, have to consult the school of your dreams about this. I'm gonna have to say that most art schools are lenient in letting students in as long as you have a pretty good portfolio and decent grades from high school and/or college.
What program are you leaning towards? Fine Arts (painting, ceramics, sculpture, etc.), or Design (graphic, illustration, advertisement, etc.)? That might be something important to decide right now.
Most importantly, art is what you make of it. The competition's tough, the economy's not in tip-top shape right now, your so-called 'art friends/colleagues' might steal your ideas or betray you in ridiculous ways possible, some clients might chew you up and spit you out, and a lot of people might never understand what you're doing in your practice, but it's all about the fight. You have to fight for your spot in art so that at least you can live off it.
Don't let the 'negativity' discourage you from at least trying for it. Anyone can do art, but only few can actually go for it. Not all art degrees are useless, and it's all about the skills and connections. You're the one who'll essentially have to make a degree useful in the right way. You have to know your market very well to survive. If no one could ever get a job in art, then people like Leonardo da Vinci, Chihiro Iwasaki, Tim Burton, Irving Penn, Hayao Miyazaki, Nick Cave, Antoni Gaudi, Erik Spiekermann, Rei Kawakubo, Paula Scher, etc., wouldn't have existed and made a living off what they do/did.