Portfolio Preparation

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A 5-week class designed to promote student awareness of BFA application requirements

See what students have said about this class by 'clicking here'

Portfolio Preparation and Application to a 4-year BFA

Alex Hamil – BFA, M.Ed. instructor     alexpaints@kc.rr.com

     The following material(s) are for student and general public use, based on a 5-class (5 week) Continuing Education class I've developed and instructed for the last three years.  The attached lessons and syllabus are neither copyrighted or restricted in their usage.  If you have questions, please contact me at: alexpaints@kc.rr.com .


This unit serves as a five-class supplement within a senior high school level Visual Arts classroom to either an Advanced Placement Portfolio or a class of advanced art students (typically juniors or seniors) desiring application to a 4-year BFA program.  This unit contains assignments and discussions specific to reviewing vocabulary, content and exercises in developing a portfolio and additional application materials for potential acceptance to a post-secondary visual arts degree.  Due to a limited timeframe, the lessons included focus on reviewing skills in creating 2-dimensional observational drawings.  Based on my professional experience, the drawing assignments develop what are often lacking but crucial in content development to a students acceptance and preparation for entry into a 4-year (fully accredited or nationally board certified) degree seeking program*. 

When developing portfolios for review, a finalized work should equally demonstrate conceptual strength in the selection and development of subject matter (sketchbooks) and skill in the execution of media.  Modifications to the knowledge, skills, and performance tasks within this unit are possible for any teacher who requires making accommodations to adjust for timing, implementation or develop required content for specific portfolio inclusion assignments.  (see portfolio requirements by various BFA programs ~ included in the student packet).

 This unit will provide:
See what students have said about this class by 'clicking here'

Initial overview of careers
 and types of degrees available (to develop a direction) for students most interested in studying visual art as a post-secondary degree.
(click here for careers/areas of study)
Understanding of application requirements (a portfolio review, GPA and standardized test scores/ACT, letters of recommendation/LORs and statement of purpose/SOP).

(How to write an effective SOP/Statement of Purpose)
Preliminary ‘review’ lessons for developing an observationally based, 2-dimensional drawing portfolio (life drawing, still-life and landscapes) as formative evaluations.
(link to projects/5 days - 8 lessons)
Online resources  for searching and submitting to a BFA degree. (homework assignments). Sources to submit contact information to begin receiving materials along with developing personal contact with an admissions officer for their region.

(link for NPDA/Majors available for a BFA, BA, BS)
Scholarship opportunities (application deadlines and academic minimum requirements)
Conceptual ideas and skill (portfolio) development for summative evaluation.  (link to projects/lessons/days here)

                    Table of Contents

Small PowerPoint of the portfolio preparation class/unit (Click Here)

- Introduction (see left)

- Rationale

- “What’s the Big Idea?” (Conceptual Lens)

        - Enduring Understandings

        - Essential Questions (Developing a portfolio/choosing a BFA)

- Skills/Concepts (based on “Show-Me” Standards)

- Performance Tasks (developmental and culminating experiences)

        - Projects (by days)

        - Self-Assessment Rubric (to be completed on the last day of class)

Portfolio Content (development)    (article 1)

Taking a class outside of your HS studio courses may improve your chances at scholarship. (From NYTimes)

    (You'll need at least 15 to 20 images in a variety of media)

        - sample of a portfolio review sheet

        - ‘acing’ the portfolio review (How to prepare, what to submit)

        - "The cyclical process of Art"

        - Documenting your work / Editing image files for upload (.pdf)

        - Samples of submitted portfolios (student work) (Power Point)

        - Projects (in class) / observational drawing skills and concepts

- Application and Application Folder requirements

        - Scholarship deadlines (for application and acceptance)

        - Links and deadlines (similar to above) for various BFA programs

        - ACT, SAT and GPA (significance)

        - Letter of recommendation (example of LOR I submitted)

        - Writing an SOP (statement of purpose)

(article 2 - below)

Choosing a BFA program (How do I choose the right program for me?)

§    What jobs are available for students studying a BFA degree? (Slide)

§    How does the school I choose, determine my success?  (article 3/4)

                  (there are no promises in receiving a BFA degree) -delete line

§ Going on for a Master’s degree (why avoid these schools for your BFA)

§    Accreditation vs. Certificate programs (AICAD 4-page .pdf) resources

-      What careers can enter into with a BFA?

-         What is the importance of a course catalog?

-         What can I expect to study during an 'accredited' BFA degree?

Understanding CR (credit hours) and studio time (26% in major)

        Majors vs. Concentrations from NPDA

-         AICAD, NASAD and a BFA from a university or state school?

§    When do I need to decide?   (article 5)

-         What is 'early decision', what is an 'enrollment deposit'

-         Financial Aid Packages (Filing the FAFSA/dates) and links

§    Where do I find programs that offer departments of interest to me?  

        (article 6)     (Start here for finding a Major)

·    (questions when researching/example) includes portfolio requirements.

            -  When do I visit the programs? National Portfolio Days?    

            -  What questions should I ask about my department of interest, resources, faculty, etc.? (click here)

·    Links to AICAD and NPDA, suggestions for counselor contact and questions: (article 7)  (National Portfolio Day Website/Host Schools)

§    Index (click here)

Additional readings and reflections:

-       Why study a BFA? (preface to introduction PortfolioCourseDesign.doc)

-       Academic Preparation for College – College Board

-       Graphic Design according to NASAD

-     Enhancing your communication skills (7 steps)