How should art students prepare for the college admissions process?

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Our counselors answered:

How should art students prepare for the college admissions process?

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

How should art students prepare for the college admissions process?

Look at portfolio requirements before your junior year and use junior year to work on your portfolio.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

The most basic (and most important) college admissions advice: be yourself

The sage advice "be yourself" is now being echoed by college admissions officers across the country. Too many formulaic and passionless personal essays are leaving top-tier colleges and universities disappointed. The class of 2009 was expected to be the most highly qualified yet, but the run-of-the-mill "professionalized" applications were viewed as too perfect and robotlike to get to know the students, leading to a difficult admissions year. Admissions officers advise that not allowing a student's personality to shine through during the application process is making the entire process fall short. They are calling for students to quash the desire to over-polish their applications or allow parents or other admissions consultants to "spin" the application beyond personal recognition, essentially leaving the student and the student's personality out of the process entirely. Admissions officers cite the lack of authenticity and sincerity to overanxious students and parental meddling that leach the soul out of an application. Also, an over-polished application is not the only problem admissions officers are seeing in the application process this year. Another issue is that students are not taking the time to find the school that best accommodates their needs. The growing number of highly competitive high school students vying for selective early-decision spots is setting aside the idea of a "good fit" and settling for the biggest name school that gives them the fastest decision. Another symptom of the overzealous application includes the actions which some admissions officers are now calling, "admissions stalking," during which the candidate and/or candidate's parents barrage offices with calls, letters, and visits. The overbearing student and their parents wear on the nerves of the admissions staff, but to no avail, as many have gone on record as saying no such efforts have any bearing on the applicants' enrollment status. The best advice admissions officers have to offer applicants looking to move ahead of the pack is for the student to add their personality back into the application process. Picking essay topics that interest the student and not writing an essay based on what parents and counselors think the school wants to hear offers admissions officers a look into who the applicant really is. In addition to picking essay topics that are individually inspiring, advisors encourage prospective students not to be afraid to take risks in their overall applications. At the end of the day, colleges are looking for people that will best enrich the campus community with skills and traits that will set them apart and help develop the school as a whole. Thus, the application process should be one of growth and development, as each student finds their niche university – a place where they can prosper, belong and most importantly, be themselves.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Portfolio, Check!

Carefully. Arts students will be required to demonstrate their artistic talent which will translate into additional time-consuming work on their part. 

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

Visit schools and submit samples

Art students may apply different type of schools with different requirements. however. they should pay a visit to the schools and speak to current students about academic requriements as well as other experiences. it is suggested that students should prepare art samples and profiles to show strong interests. it will help students to gain perspectives if they are parepared to submit best work.

Heather McCowen
Post Secondary Counselor The Chicago HS for the Arts

Arts Students and the College admissions process

Students in the arts have an extra layer of procedure to go through when they apply for schools. Step one is the application process, and all the different pieces- Transcript, test scores, recommendation letters and essays. Like any student, these must be submitted by the deadline. Step two is the audition/portfolio review. If the student is majoring in the arts, this portion can be as important, if not more important than grades. Colleges state very clearly what the portfolio or audition requirements are. The key is to be prepared for the audition/portfolio review, and to adhere to the requirements.

Mark Corkery
Head College Counselor International College Admissions Network (I-CAN)

The Portfolio is Very Important to Art Major Admissions

Art students wishing to attend college and developing their craft need to consider the portfolio from their freshman year of high school if possible. Do NOT throw anything that you have drawn, painted, sculpted, etc away. Your earlier work can provide a great perspective of the progression and sophistication of your work. Taking the highest level art courses in your high school is absolutely critical. So, for example, if you have AP Art at your school, best to take that class without a doubt. Not doing so may put a negative on your application, questioning your seriousness of going into the field. Attend portfolio days offered around the country. You can take a sample of your work which you intend to submit for review to the art departments of the schools you are planning to apply to. Deans and admissions reps are available in this college fair format to critique your work and give you pointers on what else you may want to work on to be competitive to their respective admissions committees.

Helen Cella

How should art students prepare for the college admissions process?

They need to prepare a portfolio

Erica White
College & Career Counselor Middletown High School

How should art students prepare for the college admissions process?

Most art students will be required to submit a portfolio of their work for acceptance. Art students should look at prospective schools and see what the portfolio requirement entail (how many items, what format, specific types of art, etc). This should be done early on in the process so that they will have enough time to put together all that is required. They should also work with their art teachers who have experience in this area. Many art schools will offer portfolio review days, where a student can bring their materials and get suggestions on what to add or change. I would highly suggest attending one of these local sessions, even if isn't at school they are considering.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

Artistic Students

If you are an artist, a theater major, film maker or a musician chances are you will be required to audition or present a portfolio. You must prepare your portfolio/audition carefully and methodically. Most portfolios are submitted online now, but don't wait until the last minute to put it together. As soon as you have a college list, read the audition requirements for your major and start preparing EARLY. Chances are you may need to travel to some of the auditions, so save your pennies. Begin during your sophomore/junior year looking at schools so that you will be ready to concentrate on preparation spring of your junior year and the summer before your senior year. The early bird gets the worm!

Ed Garcia
Assistant Professor/Counselor Austin Community College

The standard process versus the department

Some colleges have unique admissions standards for certain majors. An art student should prepare for the admissions process by first understanding the general admissions process, and then by understanding the departmental admissions process. What is the difference you might ask? The difference is that all students have to go through a standard admissions process, but there are some departments such as art, engineering, business, etc that might have a different process in regards to how they admit students. The best way to find out is by reviewing the online website for the department for the college you are interested in attending. An example might look like the following: 1. Standard admissions-combo of gpa, academic course work, extracurricular activities, SAT/ACT scores, etc 2. Art Department-Student meets all of the standard admissions process, and in addition must submit a portfolio and meet with the department chair. Always take the time to inform yourself of college policies and procedures. The more you know, the better!