What is an Independent College Counselor or Advisor?

Independent college counselors are college counseling professionals that work outside the school environment to offer one-on-one advice to students in the college search process.

Why are More Students Working With an Independent College Counselor?

There is a need for college counseling outside the school setting. Most public high schools in California have a college counselor to student ratio of over 600 to 1. 

In a report commissioned by the National Association for College Admission Counselors in 2005, it was determined the typical high school student receives only 38 minutes of college preparation counseling a year. If students can not receiving the time needed to plan for college at their school, they need an independent counselor.

Additionally, most school-based college counselors are so busy they do not have the time to visit as many colleges and keep up with campus changes that independent advisors do.

Won't my School's College Counselor and Art Teachers Know How to Prepare a Portfolio?

Preparing a portfolio is specialized work that most college counselors as well as several art instructors do not fully understand. While recruiting at high schools for Oregon College of Art & Craft, I was surprised how few school based college counselors and art instructors knew how to prepare a portfolio, particularly what colleges of art looked for in portfolios. This is because the vast majority of high school college counselors and art instructors did not attend a college of art, and thus never had to prepare a portfolio for college. How can you teach others how to prepare a portfolio if you never prepared your own portfolio?

Is it Worth the Cost to Pay for College Counseling?

With the ever-increasing cost of attending college, several parents  believe hiring an independent counselor is a good investment. Paying $1000-$2000 in consulting may help prevent the costs of attending the wrong college, which could cost thousands for one semester alone. Being prepared can prevent choosing the wrong college as well as the time, money and frustration involved in transferring between institutions. 

In addition, having a well-prepared portfolio can increase the changes students receive a merit scholarship, which can be worth thousands of dollars each year.

Why Hire a Portfolio Coach?

Applicants to most colleges of art, some liberal arts colleges and universities, and master of fine arts programs are required to assemble a portfolio of their artwork. A large part of a college's financial aid and merit aid at a college of art is based on the quality of an applicant's portfolio. 

As the average cost of private college tuition reaches $38,000+, receiving financial and and merit aid is more important than ever before. Hiring a college professional to work with students to prepare their portfolio may not only increase the chances for acceptance, it may also increase merit aid awarded.

Each college of art is looking for different types of students and has different portfolio requirements. It is my responsibility to stay abreast of these requirements so my students are best prepared.

Can't My School's Art Teacher Photograph My Portfolio?

Art teachers are often overwhelmed with the ever-increasing size of most art classes. Because of this, they may not be able to photograph your artwork. 

Even if they can, they may not be able to meet you portfolio deadlines, particularly if you are applying to early admission programs including RISD, Pratt, Cooper Union and NYU.

Most art teachers do not have the time to do digital image editing and color correction to portfolio images. Digital editing can make a huge difference in the quality of an image, and can make mediocre images great images.

When Should I Begin Consulting with a Portfolio Coach and College Counselor?

Students can schedule meetings with me as needed, wherever they are in the college search process. 

I recommended working with high school students from early in the spring semester of their sophomore or junior years through the application deadline season during winter of senior year. This permits time for course planning, consideration of pre-college educational opportunities, college search, college visits, and plenty of time for portfolio preparation. 

Transfer students should contact a counselor as soon as they decide to leave their current institution to help ease the transition, as the transfer process can take up to a year to best meet application requirements.

Applicants to MFA programs should plan to invest at least a year in researching institutions, making visits, and submitting applications to make the best program decision. MFA applicants should also consider whether they want programs that offer teaching assistantships, merit scholarships.

When Should I Begin Preparing My Portfolio?

The best portfolios consistently come from students that have spent the most time preparing. College bound students should take art classes as much as possible and continue through the college application process. 

MFA applicants have usually worked years creating art, but should focus on their most recent work, particularly work done after their undergraduate program.

I Can't Take AP Studio Art, or My School Doesn't Offer It. Can I Still Apply to a College of Art?

Absolutely. There are numerous paths to creating good portfolios. Some applicants do so through the resources they have at their high school, while others have to attend workshops or courses outside. Some applicants have already earned a bachelor's degree in a field outside of art before they realize they want to pursue their art interests.

I'm Already a High School Senior. Is it Too Late to Apply for a College Program that Requires a Portfolio?

It's never too late to begin planning for things that are important to you. Artists are often late bloomers and are sometimes known for procrastinating.

However, it may be too late for a high school senior who has never taken an art class to seriously consider applying to a college of art. I have recommendations for students in this scenario to help with this decision.

I Plan to Attend a College of Art. Do I Need to Make Good Grades in Adademic Classes?

YES - making good grades is necessary to succeed at any college! It is important to make good grades in academic classes as well as have a strong portfolio. If students can not handle their academic courses in high school, they are much less likely to be able to handle these courses in college or to graduate. 

Portfolio Preparation from College Admissions Professional 1+510/ 725-2780