What to Do When Preparing to Apply to Art School Take 2 – A Post for all High School Juniors

As a tour guide at Parsons, I wrote an in depth tip guide for all High School students applying to art school in the Fall (But back in 2012, jeez Louise). Now, on the other side of the coin as an Admissions Counselor for Parsons, I thought I should revisit these tips as a person who actually reads applications. So folks, for all those rising seniors out there who are semi-nervous about college applications – this one is for you!

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 Research, Research, Research
– As a High School student, I honestly never researched for colleges and I regret it everyday. There are so many schools out there and going from a list from  your college counselor or parents give you will not make you happy. Do your research for yourself, these are the next four years of your life – choose the school that fits what you want not what you were told that you need. Also keep track of application requirements and decision deadlines – every school is different. Did you know Parsons has an Early Action deadline? Did you know we require a Parsons Challenge? Yeah, that’s a lot to remember and if you are looking into other art schools their application is totally different from ours.

 Each School Looks at a Portfolio Differently – I never considered this as a college applicant but it is totally true and I never fully understood until I read applications for Parsons. Each college is looking for a different type of student; no one wants to see a generic portfolio or application that you submitted to all schools. I know y’all don’t think we know about other schools application but we have been around the block and sadly, admissions counselors from all schools talk to each other. We know some schools require still life images while others value highly conceptual pieces and some even want a bicycle. Know the school you are applying to and what they want to see in a portfolio. How do you figure this out? Go to National Portfolio Day, book an individual appointment with a counselor for a portfolio review or simply call the admissions office.

 Summer Vacation more like a Make Vacation – My statement stated in my previous post from 2012 still remains the same – make as much as possible. On your butt this summer, not doing anything? Go out and make something. Don’t limit yourself to only creating work within a classroom setting, push yourself to create something that your teacher didn’t give you as a project. Not only is it fun, it also gives you more work so when you meet me in Fall at a National Portfolio Day, you don’t show me six pieces of work and expect it to be okay. By the end of this summer, as an art and design school college applicant, you should be able to show an admissions counselor at least 20 pieces of strong work. If you can’t do that by the start of fall – get making!

 Tumble, Pin, Blog and Brag– I absolutely hate reading essays that quote Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Chanel or dare I say, Picasso. C’mon guys! Get inspired by the people who are making and creating today, as in right now. Keep a Tumblr, a Pintrest and follow as many design blogs as possible ( Baubauhaus, Cool Hunting, Booooooom). Then when you talk to Admissions Counselors at National Portfolio Day or even when you reference artists in your college essay, we think you really dig art because you’ve been doing research (Tip: This is a super important part of art school in general, so get in the habit early) Truly, my desire is to be stumped by a student and their artist references – so far it has not happened and I am waiting for the day. I dare you.

Getter’ Done – Did you know schools love when you apply early? We generally assume, that if you have your application in early that you are not only serious about going to college but you want to come to that school – as counselors, we totally dig that. If you are looking into scholarship, want to know as soon as possible or just want to get college applications done, applying early for the right student is super smart. But do not and I will stress DO NOT apply if you are not ready, take your time and make sure you are applying by regular deadlines. Also make sure if you are getting a head start on applications that it is Early Action which a non-binding commitment while Early Decision will bind you to attending that institution or university.

About Katie

Hi there y'all! My name is Katie and I am an Admissions Counselor here at Parsons. I am a recent graduate of Parsons, I majored in illustration and I am currently getting my Associates degree in Graphic Design. When I'm not at Parsons, I am a avid baseball watcher, park sitter, book lover and an aspiring hoarder.

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