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MS, Communication & Media Technology | BFA, '07
Saratoga Springs NY

National Portfolio Days

Ashley Hennigan on Sunday, 13 September 2009. Posted in The Arts

Applying for a major in the College of Imaging Arts & Sciences (CIAS)? Meet with our Faculty members at a National Portfolio Day this fall!

If you are applying to a major in the School of Art, School of Design, or School of American Crafts you will be required to submit a portfolio of work along with your undergraduate application to RIT. 

Not too long ago I was preparing my own portfolio for art school and attending National Portfolio Days myself. 

Originally from Saratoga Springs, NY, I attended a National Portfolio Day in Connecticut and it is one day in my life that I will not soon forget. I was able to visit with faculty and admissions representatives from three schools that I was interested in. 

My experience with each school was very different. The first school I saw gave me a great critique and gave me tips on how to improve my work for my application. The next school made me cry. I laugh about it now, but it was not exactly what I had planned on (and I wasn't the only student in line for that school in tears). Long story short- this school questioned my passion as an artist because I had written "undecided" on my inquiry card. They told me to leave with out even seeing my portfolio. I insisted through my tears that they have a look, and after the review I was encouraged to apply. I'm sure you can already guess that I chose not to!

RIT was the last school that I stopped by to see. I had a great experience with the faculty members. They laid out all of my work at once and gave me very positive feedback. During the visit I was asked if I would like to make this critique a part of my official portfolio review. I agreed to it and had my portfolio accepted on the spot! It was a great feeling and a good note to end the day on. 

I hope more students make it through National Portfolio Days without tears, but it was a valuable experience that I would do all over again in a heartbeat. Here are a few tips to make your trip an enjoyable and productive experience.

Ashley's Tips: 

Do your homework 
Research schools that are a good fit for you and make a list of your top 10. 
There is a good chance you will run out of time to see everyone on your list, but a plan for the day will definitely help! 

Get organized 
Bring your work in a manageable portfolio. 
Keep your work neat and clean. 
Be prepared to speak about each piece. 

Arrive early 
It's a long, busy day. 
Plan to be there from start to finish. 
Check in early and map out your day!

Have an open mind 
Take criticism, note it and make plans to improve your work.

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Comments (8)

  • Amanda


    14 September 2009 at 21:50 |
    What did your portfolio consist of?
  • Ashley Hennigan

    Ashley Hennigan

    15 September 2009 at 09:57 |
    I had probably close to 10 drawings, a few paintings, and a few photographs. I also had 3-5 graphic design pieces and one of my sketchbooks with me.

    I can say that the reviews were mostly based on drawing ability from direct observation, so include as many of those pieces as possible- no matter what kind of art you intend on studying.
  • Amanda


    16 September 2009 at 22:17 |
    okay, thank you!
  • Amanda


    16 September 2009 at 22:37 |
    are you a graphic design major?
  • Ashley Hennigan

    Ashley Hennigan

    17 September 2009 at 15:30 |
    I was a Fine Art Studio major as an undergrad. My profile photo is of me in the Printmaking Studio. Printmaking and painting were my main concentrations. One of our Ambassadors, Erin Hazeltine, is a current graphic design major. She has a blog and would love to answer any design questions!
  • Emily Okey

    Emily Okey

    17 September 2009 at 18:04 |
    I'm a graphic design major too, i love answering questions! :)
  • Justin


    07 November 2009 at 16:54 |
    what would look best in a portfolio if you're going for a new media design & imaging major?
  • Ashley Hennigan

    Ashley Hennigan

    08 November 2009 at 16:56 |
    Drawings from direct observation are still very important, even in a major that is as web design based as New Media Design.

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