What is National Portfolio Day?
If you are a high school or college student interested in applying to an art school for fine arts or design, then National Portfolio Day is a great resource for you. Representatives from the nation’s leading art colleges and universities accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design will travel to the George Mason University School of Art to review your artwork, discuss your educational and professional goals, and share information on art programs, careers, admissions, and financial aid and scholarships. This event is free and open to the public.
Please note: Admissions decisions and scholarship awards will not be offered at National Portfolio Day. Some colleges may accept your portfolio as the visual portion of your application while others have policies which prohibit making an admissions decision at the time of your review. We recommend speaking to and having your work reviewed by as many representatives as possible.
National Portfolio Day takes place on the same day as the Mason School of Art Open House. For information on our Open Houses, click here.
I’ve never attended National Portfolio Day, what can I expect?
If you have never attended a National Portfolio Day event, don’t be nervous! This event is not an examination or competition. These events are about an exchange of information. The representatives want to learn about you, your work, and your plans, all while informing you about their college or university and application requirements. These events may be the first time you have been in an environment with so many university representatives in one place who all share a powerful commitment to art and design. Use this as an opportunity to be inspired, to gain advice as to how to improve or present your portfolio, and to experience a small taste of what it is like to attend a professional art and design program.
When you arrive, you will receive a map that shows the locations of the visiting representatives. We recommend researching the attending schools you want to visit ahead of time, so you know who you would like to visit with first. You can find a list of schools who are attending here. When you arrive at the Art & Design building please make sure to check-in. Once you check-in, a representative will give you an NPD sticker, please place this on you and do not take it off during the duration of the event. This is how schools and volunteers will know that you are registered. Once you are registered and checked-in please stand in the designated lines. Reviews start at 1:00pm and only then will the doors to the buildings open. When this happens, you will walk to the table of an institution you are interested in. When it’s your turn, the representative will look at your portfolio and talk to you about how to best prepare for admission to that school. Each rep typically spends 10-20 minutes with a student, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions.
Each school will want you to fill out an information card so they can stay in touch with you and make notes about your work. To save time, bring a few address labels that you can stick on the info cards.
Pay attention to the time. Reviews must stop at exactly 5pm, so if you’re still in a long line at 4:45pm, you may want to think about talking to a representative at a school that doesn’t have a line. Be open to speaking with new schools, as every representative can offer valuable feedback and information.
What should I bring?
Your best and most recent work. You should bring no more than 20 pieces, which can include finished work, works in progress, sketch books, originals or photos. Bring original work if it is easy to carry and fits in a simple portfolio. If your work is large, heavy or fragile, bring images of it instead. Do not spend money on matting, framing or an expensive portfolio. We suggest using a basic cardboard portfolio.
A laptop, phone or tablet with a charged battery. This is helpful if you have digital work, time-based pieces or images of large work. We do not recommend bringing only a USB flash drive, as most representatives will not have a laptop with them. You are not required to show digital work.
Paper and something to write with. You will be filling out forms and you will want to take notes. Stickers with your contact information are very helpful. Schools typically ask you for: name, address, phone number, email address, birth date, year of high school graduation and major of interest.
Water and snacks. Some lines may be long, and you might want some refreshments.
Questions you have about each school. This is a great time to get answers from school representatives.
A watch or cell phone to keep track of time. Reviewing stops promptly at 5 pm.
Are you still unsure of how this works? We are here for you! If you have questions about what materials to include, registration, or simply need more information, check the NPD FAQs page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.