Interview with Ms. Carole Schaffer, Associate Dean

Posted in: Admissions

Parsons School of Design

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

Potential to succeed as demonstrated in the home exam and portfolio. High School grades and test scores.

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

Originality, creativity, problem-solving, a variety of media, conceptual thinking and observational drawing.

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

Discipline, drive and seriousness about the hard-work involved in becoming a designer. Interest in liberal arts and other subjects — not just art and design. Ability to articulate their ideas about their work.

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

Weak portfolio, poor grades, lack of discipline.

How selective are art schools in general?

Art schools in general are not selective; many have open enrollment — that is, they accept all students who apply. Parsons School of Design is highly selective — more than half the applicants are “rejected.”

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

Contact the schools you are interested and find out when/where you can attend a portfolio workshop to find out what makes a strong portfolio. Do not rely solely on high school guidance counselors or art teachers for advice. Read all college materials carefully and do research on the various art and design disciplines and the careers they lead to. Attend college summer programs for high school students and/or other college-level classes.

What percentage of applicants to you accept?

48%

Explain the similarities and differences between getting accepted into your undergraduate vs. your graduate program.

Graduate programs and Parsons are not replications of the undergraduate subjects. The admissions review process is handled directly by the departments (as opposed to the Admissions office). Applicants to graduate programs should become very familiar with the particular programs and focus their applications on addressing how they fit that program.