Preparing a kid for art/design school (college) archived

Put in "please help" as opposed to education, due to a wider audience.

What do art/design schools look for?

My daughter excels in art/design/tv production in school. Does pretty welll in math.

From her grades and her likes, it seems like this is the route she should take when looking into colleges.

I sort of did a 180 to end up pursuing a career in the arts, never took an art class in high school although I was always interested in it, my parents pushed me more academically. As soon as I took my first design class in college I knew I should have listened to my heart and started studying art sooner. I have always wanted to not do that to my kid. But, her grades are all over the place even though she is very bright. I at least want to make sure if she chooses to go to an art school that she is doing what she needs to do now. I know she should talk to her guidance counselors at school but I figured I would do a little research first.

A strong visual portfolio is usually required for art/design schools in addition to the usual college requirements. Check out the websites of schools such as Pratt Institute to see the typical requirements. Good luck.

Can the portfolio be from HS classes or does she have to take separate classes elsewhere?


shh said:

Can the portfolio be from HS classes or does she have to take separate classes elsewhere?

The portfolio should consist of work that she has done in school and/or separate classes. A variety of media should be represented showcasing your daughter's talents with an emphasis on her strongest skills.

I attended FIT but also interviewed at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. I never took any art classes outside of HS, I did have double arts senior year and found my art teacher to be extremely helpful in putting together a portfolio. Back then you brought in your actual work in a ginormous black portfolio.
One thing I do regret is missing the whole 'college' experience. I also had trouble juggling the academic credits with the art and studio classes I required for my major, I also had to declare my major immediately. Don't get me wrong living in NYC as a teenager/young adult was an amazing experience and I loved doing something creative for the majority of my day but it was a hard to enter a school like FIT without having some of the academic courses credited.

I'd be happy to talk to your daughter and look at her portfolio. (It doesn't have to be professional looking for me--I would just want to see what she does well, see where her interests are).

I'm currently an art director for a large publisher in NYC.

Without knowing much at this point, I'd rec. that she start joining school activities that can become art related for her. Join the year book commitee. The newspaper. CHS offers classes in Photoshop and Illustrator. My daughter took that class and loved it---and she wants to be a DR. Also enter art contests--ie: AAA has a "design a saftey poster" contest every year. She doesn't have to win--she just has to be interested in entering those types of contests.

I think more than grades, and a good portfolio, art colleges want to see that a student is really passionate about art.

What grade is she in now?

Yes the prtfolio can be wih work from high school and other pieces she might have done at home.
I went to Pratt and highly recommend it as well. But you can also look into SVA - School of Visual Arts and even FIT.

There's a great piece on SCAD's website on how to build a portfolio for admission. I spend a lot of time at design schools across the country and this one is one of my favorites.

For Art:
RISD, Savannah College of Art & Design, Ringling(?) in Florida, Chicago Art Institute

For Film:
Wesleyan, NYU, UCLA, USC

Also, talk to some of the folks at CHS. I overheard Larry McKim having a similar discussion with a kid a few months ago. He's very approachable and would love to mentor your daughter if he knows her.

If I am not mistaken, one entrance requirement to RISD is to draw a bicycle (in a creative manner).
It has been the requirement for 20 some years and they have seen everything!

While not known as an 'art' school NJIT has art offerings as well and if her interests shift in college there are a multitude of career ready options to transfer into ...

Good point! My husband has hired some of his most talented employees from NYIT as well.
Also consider the New York School of Interior Design. It can take a student in many directions including the very useful basic art history.

My daughter is also interested in art and has been researching colleges, etc. She has a portfolio and is continuing to build it. The AP Studio Art course at CHS (co-taught with Art 4) has the students produce an AP-ready portfolio (which is not necessarily the same as a college app portfolio but certainly applicable.) Unfortunately my DD was unable to take AP Studio Art this year for the second year in a row since the teacher put her on the list for it, because both sections of AP BC Calculus were scheduled at the same period (another story and I have contacted Tony Mazzochi about that issue).

My daughter has taken some CHS art courses as well as a number of courses at the Baird. A new series of those starts right after Spring Break by the way. Many of those Baird courses are taught by Larry McKim who also teaches the AP course at CHS so this is a good way to make that contact. (That's how he knows my daughter to have put her on the list during her Freshman year ... too bad Guidance wasn't so obliging.)

Both of my daughters have also done pre-college art programs. The older one did the Saturday and summer programs at FIT and the younger one did a program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) in Boston last summer.

Some art schools that one or the other (or both) of my daughters have considered: MICA in Maryland, RISD - Providence, RI; UArts in Philadelphia, SMFA Boston, SVA in NY, Pratt, Cooper Union in NY (no tuition, very competitive for that reason, among others)

I know I'm missing some. I'll ask her later.

Hi Shh, I graduated with a BFA from Parson about 15 years ago. I had also applied to RISD and SVA. I cannot emphasize enough how important a strong portfolio was to getting accepted. One of the things I discovered was that there were many high schools out there that had much stronger art programs than mine did so people who were applying had strong life drawing skills where I had never even taken a class. So if there's classes outside of high school that interest her they could really help give her an edge. Plus they're fun grin

Currently I'm an art director/creative strategist in a pharma company but I did the ad agency thing for years. Even though my BFA is in illustration, Parson was a great experience for me and really helped me to understand that I wanted my career to be creatively based.

Good luck to your daughter! BTW, I'm Pippi's cousin in law so if you want to talk more feel free to get my contact info from her.

I went to Pratt and have been working in advertising as an art director for 20 years. Way back when, I got in to Pratt Graduate School (barely) with a Fine Arts portfolio (ie drawing and painting) from college. I do think that it helps to get into design school if you have a design portfolio as well as an art portfolio. So, if your daughter hasn't done any commercial art work (ie ads, posters, brochures, tv commercials, websites) it might help to either a) take classes specifically geared towards commercial art, b) enter contests where she is tasked to create commercial art (even if she doesn't win, she'll still have work from those competitions, or c) just make some stuff up on her own. Option C is tough because without a judge or mentor filtering your work, you may end up with work in your admissions portfolio that doesn't quite hit the mark as far as commercial art goes. Again, I happened to get in to the Communications Design program because my Fine Arts work happened to be highly conceptual and message-oriented, as opposed to abstract and personal. In short, I wasn't a very good fine artist, but am doing well as a commercial artist.

I haven't worked specifically in design, but have worked with people in graphic and media design (magazines, books, digital, ads). Some people didn't attend the traditional arts/design schools, but design/arts programs within traditional liberal arts universities, such as Syracuse. Penn State is another. Lesser known places like U of Hartford have small arts schools that have taught impressive people.

In addition to the excellent schools already mentioned here to help with research, there actually are schools not on the East Coast. oh oh Examples would be CalArts, Kansas City Art Institute etc. I also think a lot of these schools are represented at some of the larger college fairs ... there's on in Edison late April.

While it's targeted mostly to working professionals (and a bit towards students about to enter "workforce") the AIGA website (graphic arts) might be a good resource just to give your daughter more of a sense of what people do as careers, and for sources of inspiration, and they might have NYC exhibits and speaking events that will be interesting.

Cal Arts - That's one I forgot in my list posted earlier.


jbirchby said:

BTW, I'm Pippi's cousin in law so if you want to talk more feel free to get my contact info from her.

I seriously love that you still lurk ;-)

Well, you know you can take the girl out of Maplewood/South Orange but you can't blah blah blah ;-)

Lol, I should clarify my background is in the arts, starting in the late 80s, so I remember the big black prortfolios. I worked in publishing, pharma, advertising, and at small design agencies doing graphics, and got degrees in design from pace (don't ask) and a BS in studio art from NYU....I just want my kid to enter into that world (if that's what she chooses) with a better background and confidence than I did.

She knows mr. Mckim and has taken a class outside of school with him and in school with him.

She is so far ahead of the rest of her design classmates that the instructor will not let her do more work, she just told us this yesterday. I guess I should inquire as to what she should be doing if she can't work on more projects!

She has picked up flash and photoshop on her own, she is great with digital media, editing, etc. she does a lot on her own for fun.

I will encourage her to take ap art, at least when she is a senior, and I will have her talk to her teachers about building a portfolio. I never had anyone to talk to about that!

I saw someone with one of those huge portfolios just the other day ... you'd think there would be an app for that or something. oh oh

That is funny.

These days a lot of the portfolios are on thumb drives! But I think you still need one of those big black things with some samples of your work, also.

I think my kid has told me that McKim has photography equipment in the studio at CHS for the kids to get good photos of their artwork for those thumb drives (or CDs, in the case of submitting to colleges.)


sac said:

These days a lot of the portfolios are on thumb drives! But I think you still need one of those big black things with some samples of your work, also.

Yes I noticed that Pratt wanted the portfolio uploaded to their website.

Check out Kevin Tests at CHS - he's worked with many students preparing portfolios throughout their high school years.
He and other Art teachers are committed to getting kids placed in schools that are most appropriate and advising them
what to do in cases of being advanced. Many opportunities exist during summers at liberal arts colleges as well as at art schools.

I think you mean Kevin Testa oh oh

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