Art School admission 2019

Similar threads in past years are very helpful. This thread is for aspiring art school applicants in 2019.

Good Luck! Everyone! and Thanks in advance for the help.

First question, Does the lack of art classes in high school put you at a disadvantage? Is the recommendation from Arts teacher required?

I think it’s more important to have a portfolio than to have art classes. Do you have a portfolio?

Yes, Private art teacher since childhood.

I don’t think art teacher recc is required, but in our DD’s case she over-rode her guidance counselor’s reccd of wanting two academic recc’s only (in kid’s defense, she was a terrible counselor and had zero understanding of art school admissions).

So DD had 1 academic and 1 art teacher (who had her multiple times and in Art History AP so could also speak to academic strengths too) reccs her high school sent out.

Really depends on the school. University of Michigan for example factors in private lessons for their admission. I think to them that shows effort and motivation beyond just school. My daughter also submitted a letter of recommendation from both her art teacher and an academic teacher. Like I said, it may vary by school. At a school like Michigan where academics way heavily along with art they probably demand more than a school that is primarily art. I don’t necessarily agree it’s more important to have a portfolio. If you are talking Carnegie Mellon or Michigan you better have a lot more than just a portfolio.

From the tours we’ve taken (New School, Pratt) there is an understanding that some schools don’t offer many, if any, art classes. Thus the Foundation Year. I don’t know how that plays out in real time, though.

I do hear the portfolio is key. Which is a relief to my kid, who is a good student (one B so far in school, a smattering of “honors” courses, one AP course (English), maybe one next year (Stats). Decent SAT (1300–and when she did test prep afterward, her score went DOWN. So we are done with that!) but not setting the academic world on fire. Very little in the way of service, besides making posters for benefit concerts. Some part-time work. Her strength is that she is a hard worker–shows up every day and does the work–and tough (can deal with criticism).

So the focus on portfolio is a relief but it puts a lot more pressure on her. She was a theater/vocal kid then threw that all overboard and started art sophomore year, took one 2-week early college course at SAIC (which, even though nonresidential and with merit scholarships was plenty expensive for us! I salute those parents who can support their kids through this expensive process) and is looking at art schools.

She mostly draws and paints. She took a printmaking class, and I LOVED the work that came out of it, but she didn’t like the advance planning (I realize there are printmaking methods that allow for a bit less of that, but this kid Can’t Be Convinced.) Unlike many kids I am reading about, she doesn’t seem to have an interest in computer animation or CAD. Maybe that will change when she is actually exposed to it. She is, IMO, an amazing filmmaker but considers that “private,” and she doesn’t like to share it.

I have no idea what she will get into, and if she does, what we can afford. She likes SAIC because you don’t have to “major” in any one art form. She is still very much finding her way in art. For example, at the SAIC summer program, she learned she loves conceptual art and sculpture, two things she’s never done before.

We’ve been to Pratt and of course she loved it. I am concerned about the whole “having to choose a major” part but who knows, that might change over the year. When my son (a dancer) was looking into schools, he started out wanting only ballet and at the end of the year wanted modern. Different schools!

So… I guess my question is: Any suggestions of where to look? She’s a city mouse so is looking only at Chicago and New York. I am trying to talk her into Philly or some other city.

We are headed to NYC later this month to look at SVA, Parsons, Cooper Union and FIT. They all feel like long shots when it comes to affordability. We went to an NYU tour, but before she chose art. I also hear they are stingy with merit aid. Hunter looked promising but they seem kind of old-school, choosing BFA students from the BA crop sophomore year. I am trying to talk her into options outside the city, but that’s a tough sell.


Why no RISD? It is a city school. You do not have to declare majors during first year. MICA also very good.

I don’t know why not. Her aunt (my sister) teaches at RISD. She doesn’t seem interested. Maybe I will convince her to go visit. Another aunt (DH’s sister) graduated from MICA. At the time, the area around MICA was kind of sketchy. Not so much anymore?

You really need to look into VCU Arts and Stamps College of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. I know VCU has art foundation first year and then you declare where your interest is. Richmond is a great town and very art focused. VCU is top rated for Art but about middle of the road for most everything else. Michigan however is one of the most flexible programs out there, you can basically design your degree with art and anything else. There is no declaring a specific focus. You can take art and design classes along with any other classes in other programs if you want. The benefit of UM is even as an art student you have access to any world class resources and coursework from the whole university which is considered one of the best in the country. You are not going to get that from many other schools. Ann Arbor is one of the best college towns and Art is huge there. It is just a great environment. UM is also generous with merit aid for OOS. VCU was also generous too to us. Both schools rely on portfolio for 50% of your admission. Don’t let cost sway you from looking, look at everything you can and evaluate everything at the end. We were quite surprised and so glad we did not ignore looking at schools because of cost. If we did, my daughter would not have had the opportunity she has now.

@DBY2017 Congrats to your daughter’s admissions to Stamps. Could you elaborate on aid your daughter received? Was she awarded merit or need or both? Was it specifically for art? Our experience with aid from U of M was very different for our son a couple of years ago. We are OOS and he received $0 merit or need aid for the College of Engineering.

We were very fortunate- my daughter got both a Michigan Grant and a scholarship from Stamps School of Art and Design. Less than 5% of students admitted to UM get any type of merit aid. We were told they only offered 8 students the art scholarship out of 150 that were accepted. In total we got slightly more than 35K in grant and scholarship money from Michigan.

@DBY2017 Thanks for sharing your daughter’s aid. It’s truly rare to get that kind of aid from Michigan. Your daughter is OOS? The Michigan Grant is interesting… I would assume that is for in-state students. Congrats to her!

We are from OOS. I really don’t think the grant is rare. It is my understanding that is not unusual. They will match need for those making 90k or less for OOS students, 65k or less for in-state students. The merit aid we received is very rare though- they flat out said at orientation that any scholarships are rare- less than 5% overall get them at UM. They actually flew my daughter to UM and put her in a hotel for 3 days in March to convince her to come to UM and Stamps Art. We feel very blessed for the opportunity.

@missis D was a theatre/ MT/ Choir/ acappella kid throughout high school and in junior year decided to pursue her BFA in art. She attended NYU for her BFA in studio art (sculpture concentration.) She then stayed at NYU a fifth year to get her MA in art ed. She is currently teaching sculpture at a public school in Brooklyn and working with the arts team as part of a Disney Grant in MT.

NYU ended up the perfect fit. She LOVED their art program, but also loved that she was surrounded by creatives in music, theatre and film. She took voice lessons all 4 years and acted in several student films. She also took classes in special effects makeup through Tisch. She had incredible experiences working in performance art, making sound installations and video art.

If you are headed to NYC, check out the Barney building and the school’s incredible senior studio space right by Astor Place.

I can speak about VCUARTS as D will be a junior this year GD major. Its been a incredible great experience. from day one . She has had so much opportunity the biggest problem is time to pursue it all. she has had works sold with the help of faculty, has had several internships (paid) with rising artist. This summer she has been mentored in nyc by a exciting well known designer. While certainly Michigan is a great university, vcuarts is the #2 ranked art school (mfa) in the country behind only Yale. Just something to consider.

If she wants a city atmosphere, I’d highly recommend looking at the Philly schools. The city is very art-centric and a great location. My daughter is going into her junior year at Temple U/Tyler in the Graphics and Interactive Design program, and it’s been an excellent experience for her. She also looked at UArts and Drexel but there’s also Moore and Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts too.

Also try to have her go to a National Portfolio Day event in your area. It was through that she found several schools she found interesting and applied to them as well.

Belated thanks for all the input! Of course now my daughter wants a BFA program in a university. Some of the schools (SAIC, Pratt) look like they don’t have much in the way of academics.

I know she doesn’t want math or science-y kind of stuff but she does want sociology, psychology, etc.

I can’t speak to their Fine Arts program but Univ of Cincinnati offers a BFA through their DAAP college. DAAP itself is highly ranked for a lot of majors but I’m just not sure about their Fine Arts major. It’s an urban campus. My daughter fell in love when she visited and loves it so far.

@missis I don’t have a lot of input here but my D is a freshman at Pratt. She’s taking a literature class right now as part of the foundation year. She transferred AP credit for English Language and her adviser says she’ll have a little leeway next year choosing electives. A writing professor from Pratt was featured in the New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago and it mentioned that she teaches a popular course on ghost stores. My D also met a student at orientation that was signed up for astronomy.