Pre-College Portfolio Preparation


Rochester Institute of Technology’s Pre-College Portfolio Preparation workshop is an annual two-week visual arts class designed for high school students. Taught by faculty in RIT’s School of Art, the workshop focuses on the process of preparing portfolios for admission to college art programs. In-depth investigations of media concept development and critical analysis are emphasized. Students will draw from life, exploring the human figure, still life, interior spaces and nature. Expressive art assignments, group and individual critiques and visual research will help guide students through the process of portfolio selection and documentation.

The 2020 workshop will take place July 6-17 at RIT. Please contact with any questions.

Students draw self-portraits using charcoal
One of the workshop assignments is a self-portrait using charcoal. By RIT Photo Services.

Creative Environment

Throughout the two weeks, students complete a range of projects for inclusion in their portfolios — from still lifes to figure and gesture drawing to self-portraits to printmaking. To boot, they do so in a college-like atmosphere, surrounded by creative peers and faculty in RIT’s studios. Students are provided the necessary tools and resources to take on assignments that cater to what college art programs are looking for in applicants. The workshop also culminates in an exhibit of the artwork created during the two weeks.

“We’re trying to give them a leg up so they have more choices,” said School of Art lecturer Denton Crawford, who has taught the Pre-College Portfolio Preparation course since 2014. 

Student output from the 2019 workshop
Students complete projects across several mediums, including printmaking, throughout the course. By RIT Photo Services. 

Read about students’ experience at the 2019 workshop below: 

Dylan Desmarias (Ridgefield, Conn.)

“I would tell anyone interested in art to take this course. I have had an awesome experience here. Not only does it get you pieces for your portfolio, but it’s like a pre-college experience. It’s been a sneak peek at the future and I’m excited to go to college because of it.”

Juliet Hull (Burnt Hills, N.Y.)

“This program gives you a head start on the projects that you’re really going to want for your portfolio. It’s less of a stress because you have a head start from some of the stuff you’ll work on during the school year.”

A drawing of a skull
Students take on an exquisite corpse drawing assignment.

Elizabeth Lowe (North Canton, Ohio)

“Printmaking and figure drawing was something that I got to try for the very first time, which was really exciting. There are a lot of things that I’ve been able to experience and technical skills that I’ve learned here that are opening my eyes to bettering myself even more than I thought I could and getting me ready to handle college art.”

Jeremy Steinmark (Queens, N.Y.)

“I’ve found a lot of people at this workshop like the same things I do. Everyone is so talented and excited about the work and we’ve all made great friends. It’s been so fun living in the dorms, playing games and eating meals together. I’ve found a place at RIT that makes me feel at home.”

Scholarship & Housing

Applicants may be eligible for scholarships per review by the School of Art director and workshop committee. Students interested in the scholarship must complete the scholarship application (coming in January) and submit samples of their work, a letter of recommendation from a current teacher and a financial statement from the parent/legal guardian.

RIT Housing accommodations are optional and available for those who need them. Students seeking housing must complete a housing application (coming in January) and submit with other application materials.

A group photo of workshop attendees and faculty
Students and faculty from the 2019 workshop. By Elizabeth Lamark.


We are no longer accepting applications for the 2020 workshop at this time.

College and Careers

After the workshop, students also have the option to attend RIT's College and Careers — a two-day career exploration program that helps students gain the experience and knowledge for their college decision. The first of two College and Careers events in 2020 is set for July 17-18. The program, hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, includes campus tours, admissions and academic presentations, hands-on demos and workshops for students and more. Housing is available, but optional for students. 

Students work in the sculpture studio
High school students participate in a workshop at College and Careers. By RIT Photo Services.