right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

What happens if you don't pass portfolio review after foundation courses?

so_transplantso_transplant 9 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
My daughter is looking at graphic design programs at VCU, Virginia Tech, and George Mason. (We live in Virginia.) Like most or maybe all arts program, there's a portfolio review toward the end of the first year during which you seek acceptance into a particular arts major. I saw on VCU's website that 90% are accepted. What happens to the other 10% of first year students who aren't accepted into the arts program. They are already accepted into the university, so do they start over as non-arts majors?
14 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: What happens if you don't pass portfolio review after foundation courses?

  • gouf78gouf78 7787 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No idea on my part but I’d like to know also.
    Anyone with experience?

    Many schools accept entrance to an art program (illustration, CA, film, etc) but after two foundation years then require portfolio review to actually get into your chosen major. Sometimes your odds aren’t great. Most of these schools require no entry portfolio and appear to be preying on a segment of a hopeful population who didn’t have initial talent.
    On the other hand they allow those who never had a chance to develop their talents to have that chance.

    · Reply · Share
  • so_transplantso_transplant 9 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    The odds seem to vary by school. It seems to be affected not only by the strength of your portfolio but also the college's resources/space available. I was able to find stats for VCU and Virginia Tech on their websites. VCU said "90% of students were accepted into the 1st choice arts program". Virginia Tech reports 75% were accepted in their arts program after the portfolio review. Of course, the competition may be tougher at VCU given it's strong reputation in the arts.

    I'm still not clear what happens if you don't pass the portfolio review. I found a thread about Virginia Tech that said those who didn't pass were allowed to continue as art history majors and resubmit their portfolio the following year. After that, they could continue at the school in general studies. This sounds like it would significantly delay graduation and it might be more advisable to switch to a nonarts major.

    At this point, I'm inclined to encourage my daughter to weigh the acceptance rate post portfolio review into her decision as she looks at colleges. Further, I think we need to be at least a little familiar with the options available if she isn't accepted after the portfolio review. She's talented but you never know what can happen and it's best to be prepared.
    · Reply · Share
  • gouf78gouf78 7787 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I’m not sure where exactly your D is in this process.
    This is where you go to NPD (national portfolio days) if you haven’t already and let schools guide you to strengthen a portfolio and hopefully give honest opinions in your chances of success. Nice thing is you can compare schools. Ask for opinions at school.

    A precollege experience can be very valuable not only to advance skills but to see if this is really the path your D wants to take.

    Taking extra art classes if possible is valuable.

    I will say there is a huge gap between art and art history. And a bigger one to graphic design.
    Good luck!




    · Reply · Share
  • sbgal2011sbgal2011 273 replies21 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @so_transplant Speaking from experience here.... my son is in the AFO program right now at VCU and he did not get his first choice major, which was Graphic Design. Only 65% of those who had GD as their first choice major were accepted. GD and Communication Arts are VERY competitive programs with lower acceptance rates than the other art programs.

    In the application process for selecting a major, students indicate their first, second, and third choice majors. If you don't get your first, you are evaluated for your second, and so on. Everyone DS knows who did not get their first choice major got their second choice one, including DS. After each semester, most art programs within VCU Arts will allow you to reapply to another major, but GD only allows it for the fall semester. If you don't really want to be in the major you were offered, you will have to transfer to either a non-arts major, or to another school altogether.

    DS was disappointed that he didn't get his first choice major but believes his second choice major may be a better fit for him after all.

    · Reply · Share
  • so_transplantso_transplant 9 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you for your response. It's very helpful to get information on actual acceptances. I was shocked that GD's acceptance rate is as low as it is. Do you have any idea why it's so low? For instance, do they have fewer GD professors than professors for other majors? Maybe some students applied to the university under one major and switched to GD for the portfolio review? From a planning perspective, it seems like they would try to accept freshmen at a level they could offer entry into the arts program at a higher acceptance rate. I.e., don't accept more GD freshman than you can offer acceptance into the arts program.

    Nonethess, I guess my daughter would need to have a second major in mind. Right now, she doesn't. Her heart and mind are set on graphic design. She's doing the summer pre-college program at VCU this summer so maybe that will spark a second area of interest. She did MICA's last year and has developed a good portfolio especially for a high school junior but 65% is a big gamble. As you can probably tell, I'm not much of a gambler :)

    By the way, what is the AFO program?
    · Reply · Share
  • sbgal2011sbgal2011 273 replies21 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @so_transplant

    At VCU Arts, every freshman enters the Art Foundation Program (AFO). It doesn't matter what you hope to major in eventually, although the application will ask what three majors you hope to study after AFO. All freshman take the same
    Art Foundation classes, including Drawing, Space, Surface, and Time, as well at Art History. You can also take a one-credit "Project", which is a 6-week class that introduces you to a specific program concentration, such as GD, Photography, Sculpture, etc.

    In March of freshman year, all students prepare a portfolio of all work their art work that they completed during AFO. They complete an application that indicates first, second, and third choice majors. Essays for each major choice are completed as well. It's a lengthy process. Two weeks after your portfolio and application is submitted, you receive an email that tells you what you got.

    Each major only accepts a certain number of applicants. Graphic Design and Communication Arts are by far the most competitive, as many people want those majors, and they only take X amount of students. That's why you have to indicate a second and third choice major. I had been warned about the lower GD acceptance rate by members on this board; otherwise,I would have thought the 90% rate that VCU states was for all programs.

    We went into this process knowing that DS may not get GD, and we had to figure out what we would do should that happen. He was admitted to the Film and Photography Department, so we are researching what options that will give him career wise upon graduation. Some of my son's peers who did not get into GD are transferring out of VCU, as they have their heart set on GD. It's been very emotional for them. I wish the process was different, and sometimes I wonder if we made the right decision by sending him to a school where he ultimately did not get what we wanted.


    · Reply · Share
  • so_transplantso_transplant 9 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks for sharing your information. It was eye-opening to say the least. I also wish the process was different because it seems to put students in the very difficult position of accepting a second choice or transferring to a different university before they have even had exposure to their first choice.

    We'll keep VCU on our list of colleges but we're leaning towards programs with either higher acceptance rates or programs that evaluate portfolios during the admissions process.

    Thanks again for your help and I hope it all works out great for your son!
    · Reply · Share
  • stones3stones3 929 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited April 9
    sbgal2011 has posted accurate information. Our D is a GD major at VCUarts and I can tell you from experience we were told the same 90% story. However, I did dig deeper and knew going in that when it came to GD there is a limited # of available spots. In our D's foundation year there was aprox 65 students accepted out of aprox 125 apps. Also you should know that once in the major, portfolios are reviewed each of the following years and have to be accepted to remain in the major.

    I can tell you that D worked very hard all foundation year and a very strong portfolio (having earned high marks in each class). nevertheless, its competitive and the reality is some will be disappointed. However, the program is very strong .
    Not just GD , but the other disciplines as well. D second choice was also photography, which she almost switched to as she really enjoyed that portion of the foundation year.

    Good luck , its a terrific school.
    edited April 9
    · Reply · Share
  • so_transplantso_transplant 9 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Congratulations to your daughter!

    Does the first year/AFO courses require strong artistic skills in drawing, sculpting, and painting? We've been told that it's not as important for GD as it is for other majors. Most of my daughter's high school portfolio includes digital artwork that was drawn with software tools and a few traditional sketches.
    · Reply · Share
  • sbgal2011sbgal2011 273 replies21 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @so_transplant Yes, it does require strong artistic skills like you mentioned, which is probably why my DS did not get into the GD program. Like your D, he is very strong with digital artwork but is not what I would consider "artsy", in that he doesn't do well in all-things art. While everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, his only real strength in the art world is digital art - photos and designs using software, taking videos and photographs, etc. He's not a "hands-on" creative guy. His sculpture, drawings, wood shop projects, etc were not anywhere near the caliber as many of the art students, and yet that's what went into his AFO Portfolio when applying for his major. It didn't make a lot of sense, IMO. So they based his application for GD on pictures of his sculptures, wood shop projects, paintings, drawing, etc. He did take two project classes and was able to include that work but it was limited. It's a shame because his digital art is excellent, but he didn't have much a chance during AFO to showcase it.

    My son's portfolio to get into VCU Arts was 100% digital art. It consisted only of photography and graphic design. He did not have a single drawing or anything else. So I was actually surprised that he even got into VCU Arts. Once AFO started, it became apparent VERY quickly that the level of art that they wanted was not a good fit for him. I always said, and it sounds strange, that my Art School student isn't very artsy. He just loves digital art. Nothing else. So in retrospect, maybe he should have gone to a college that had an art program, not necessarily an art school. What's done is done though.

    · Reply · Share
  • so_transplantso_transplant 9 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @sbgal2011 Thank you so much for your feedback. Our kids seem to have very similar skill sets so my daughter would probably have a similar experience at VCU. It's frustrating IMO that the school seems to weight traditional art skills so heavily for GD yet the online gallery of student work seems to incorporate very little drawing. Instead, the work displayed seems to emphasize typography. This is just my opinion of course. It is very impressive work and outshines much of what I've seen at other schools. Again, IMO.

    Anyway, Radford, JMU, ODU, GMU, Longwood, and Virginia Tech seem to be the only other colleges in Virginia with graphic design programs. I don't think VT is accredited in GD. Do you think any of these is a decent second choice to VCU? Cost is an issue, so we are trying to stay in-state.
    · Reply · Share
  • sbgal2011sbgal2011 273 replies21 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited April 11
    @so_transplant We looked at VT and GMU. VT is a great school of course, but we were not impressed at all with the art program. The head of the department could not have been nicer, but the program was rather basic. They do lots of field trips to Richmond and NYC from what I recall. Internships were very limited and, overall, we felt that the art program was not a priority at VT.

    The GMU Graphic Design program is their most successful art program. These students have an incredible amount of internship opportunities due to Mason's close proximity to DC. They have a high job placement rate. Their facilities are good, they have a nice building. Certainly worth checking out. My DS 17 goes to GMU but is not an art major.

    One school we didn't actually check out in person but I spoke to the folks on the phone was the University of Southern Mississippi. Sounds very random, I know, but a good friend of mine who is from Mississippi had told me that this school's job placement opportunities were very impressive when it comes to GD. I found that to be true when I looked into it - the work their students produce is very impressive, and many go on to work at top-notch companies. The OOS tuition is only $10,500 a year, which is cheaper than in-state tuition at VCU, GMU, and VT. Had DS 18 not been accepted at VCU, we were going to travel to this school to check out the facilities. It's worth at least checking out their website.

    Hope that helps!
    edited April 11
    · Reply · Share
  • stones3stones3 929 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    ok so our D had a portfolio which was mostly developed in AP studio art in HS and from her experience from Cooper Union . Once in foundation year I would say she excelled tremendously at digital art but also made it a priority to only submit her very best work all the time. I know she would spend many hours on a project , ask for feedback from Prof. and on several occasions she would start over in another direction completely. I guess what I am saying is she is by no means a gifted artist. She is a very hard working student/artist. She really made a point of being proactive as much as possible. She attended outside lectures, she went to office hours, did freelance work, sold some of her pieces with faculty help,. I don't mean to sell her talent short but I think a lot has to do with being proactive and engaged/involved as much as possible. Anyway I think it helps but there are no certainties.
    · Reply · Share
  • so_transplantso_transplant 9 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks for providing more detail on your daughter's experience. It gives me a little more hope given that my daughter isn't an artist in the traditional forms of sculpture, painting etc. However, she is shy so she would need to overcome that in order to be proactive and seek out help from her professors. I'm hoping that she'll get a sense of how good the "fit" is of the school from the pre-college program this summer.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity