Admissions Interview with Mr. Tom Lightfoot, Chairman of the School of Art at RIT

Posted in: Admissions

Rochester Institute of Technology

When selecting prospective students, what factors are considered by your admissions staff? (e.g. grades, portfolio, class rank, etc.)

An applicant’s portfolio rating, SAT or ACT scores, class rank, and GPA are all used to rank applicant’s for acceptance.

What do you look for in a prospective student’s portfolio?

We look at four basic factors: the ability to articulate drawn forms in space with particular attention to drawing from direct observation, an understanding of design and composition, the appropriate use of color, and evidence of individual creativity.

What kinds of things are you looking for in an interview with a prospective student?

We look for an indication that the candidate is truly interested in pursuing a career in a visual art field and that they understand the nature of a professional art school where they will being working on art most of the time. Involvement in art must be more than casual. Art often takes us in unpredictable directions; therefore having an open mind is also critical.

What three things can most likely DECREASE their chances of getting accepted?

Poor slides, poor drawing ability, lack of enthusiasm.

In your opinion, what are the overall top five art schools in the United States? How about the top five in the World?

Of the schools I am familiar with, RIT’s School of Art offers the strongest, broad-based, arts education with particular distinction in illustration, medical illustration, and fine arts, especially with our move to non-toxic printmaking.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago still stands out as having a strong conceptual base.

RISD is always strong.

UCLA due to name faculty offers something beyond curricular strength.

Slade in the UK strikes me as a formidable school.

How selective are art schools in general?

Moderately selective. In this day and age, where monetary success is so highly sought after, art schools attract fewer candidates than information technology and business schools.

What advice can you provide to students who are trying to get accepted into art schools?

Work hard on your drawing and don’t neglect your other grades.

What percentage of applicants to you accept?

With a portfolio requirement there is a prescreening that takes place. Of those applying with portfolios, we accept about 75%.