Interview with Mr. Kenneth Young, Director of Admissions

Posted in: Admissions

California Institute of the Arts

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

Admission is based totally on talent. We need to see a portfolio of recent work. Test scores, GPA and class rank are not considered.

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

Personal work, generally this means don’t include classroom assignments unless they don’t look like classroom assignments. The items in the portfolio must reflect the work done in the major you want to pursue. For example don’t send still lifes if you want to get into the graphic design program. Most art schools are VERY specific regarding what they want to see and each school is different. If you are in doubt call and ask.

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

We don’t require an interview, it wouldn’t be fair since we get applicants from far away. If you do interview with us it’s for you. You are interviewing us.

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

  1. Drawings or paintings copied from photographs.
  2. Work that tells us nothing about the personality of the artist.
  3. Even ONE piece of anime.

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

Bad question…a school can be great for one student and terrible for another. If you can’t visit before you apply you must visit before making a decision to attend. The personality of the school is very, VERY important. Talk with the students. Ask them if they are happy or if they wished they had gone somewhere else.

How selective are art schools in general?

This varies greatly. Some select carefully and have good luck keeping their students. Others admit lots of students to the foundation year and then it’s sink or swim.

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

Follow the directions. Don’t send your portfolio on a CD-ROM if the college asks for 35mm slides. Pick a school that’s right for you, one that supports your works and your talent.

What percentage of applicants to you accept?

  • Fine Arts 23%
  • Graphic Design 38%
  • Photography 35%
  • Character Animation 18%
  • Experimental Animation 27%
  • Live Action Film/Video 26%

Do you have ANY other helpful comments, advice and/or statistics that prospective art students can use?

Many of the applicants we turn down contact us to find out why. For some of them we are the wrong school and they need to look somewhere else. But many of them find out why they got denied and what to do about it. Usually more life drawing. For these applicants, who reapply the following year after working on making a stronger portfolio, 90% get accepted.