Portfolio vs. GPA

Here’s the thing… I’m looking for a great ‘Digital Design’ / ‘Graphic Design’ college program that Looks more at your portfolio then your GPA… I’m not an amazing artist by any means but I’m fairly confident in my design knowledge/implication along with my knowledge of the computer programs needed to create such working designs… but my GPA doesn’t seem to match my potential.

I am a sr. in high school but i’m enrolled at a Vocational School (Miami Valley CTC) in the Digital Design program. Im very passionate about my work and do most of my projects on my free time as a hobby (as well as in school). I’ve managed to win a few design contests / photography contests and i’ve worked at a web design company as webmaster for close to two years… im good with people, but im just not that great at applying myself to things i dont like to do (aka English/math), I’m Looking into the DAAP program @ UC, but as far as i can tell they don’t even look at your portfolio if your GPA isnt a 3.5 or better…

any bright idea’s?

If you really want to go to DAAP then I would schedule an appointment with an administrator and plead your case. I went to a major university where it was easy to get lost in the crowd and making appointments for face time was vital.

Make them understand that as a “traditional” student you might be lacking but that as an artist and designer you know you will thrive in their program and make a great contribution. Your enthusiasm and portfolio can outweigh your high school GPA.

If you haven’t done it already I would also work on creating a brand for yourself and try to apply it consistently across your portfolio. It shows a level of seriousness that will reinforce your dedication to the field.

Any design school worth its salt will make exceptions if it’s warranted. At my school, they actually do it the other way around – they look at all the portfolios, rank them from best to worst, and then send the names to admissions…then if anyone doesn’t make the cut for marks they drop them and move on to the next, unil they get about 40 people. This way, admissions knows that the top 10 or so are really, really good, and will sometimes overlook a few percentage points if they’re borderline.

That said, any design school worth its salt will be difficult to get into, as well…mine had about a 10% acceptance rate, and the lowest high school average accepted in my year was an A-.

Put as much stuff in your portfolio as possible – contests are good – because, generally, your portfolio is what makes the difference (and more or less determines whether you’ll succeed or not). Not your GPA.

And – you’d better learn to apply yourself to things you don’t like to do. English is a very valuable skill in ID, math less so but it’s good to know. I have to apply myself in Art History and Economics, neither of which I enjoy much, because if I keep an A- average I get a hefty scholarship. There will be things that you don’t like, and things that you’ll hate, but you still have to do them…

Are you looking at Graphic Design or Industrial Design? Because the two are sort of sister programs, but the things they’ll look for in the portfolio are different. Or at least the types of things that will push you over the top.

One last thing. Get rid of the deviantart site, and put your stuff in a custom-built portfolio website. Even if the URL is just a ~username site on your school’s server, it’s still much more professional.

I will preface what I am about to tell you with the fact that there are alot of great design schools to go to.

But if you really want to go to DAAP, I would recommend doing what I did.

I was denied entry to DAAP’s school of design twice in HS and once my first year at UC.

So I entered DAAP’s school of fine art for a year to basically get my foot in the door. I eventually signed up for the appropriate foundations (1st year) design classes. I used my successful year in fine arts and the fact that I was willing to keep trying to get in as leverage to convince administrators to let me stay in the program.

I will be graduating from the Industrial Design program this June and have already accepted a job with IDEO’s chicago office.

My example of success hinged on my hard work and determination. But if you really want to grad from DAAP and get to take part in the Co-Op program then you can do this too.

I agree with the previous post, you should definitely schedule a meeting of some kind with a program director or assitant dean. But like I said there are alot of great schools out there and no matter where you go its up to you to make it a successful experience.

If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen. Good Luck.

Sounds like you aren’t a “traditional learner”, and are very focused on creative studies. It shows a lot of maturity that you want to pursue your passion - but consider first that you are always going to have to do things you don’t want to do - especially as an art professional and student. Take a deep breath and try to be patient with the process of school - it’s slow, but it pays off…

Anyway, it looks like you can work hard when motivated - but as many creatives know, public school rarely caters to artists… science, math - useful stuff, but it tends to drown out the right-brainers :slight_smile:

Consider that most real Universities require core curriculum that can’t be side-stepped. Science, math, english - you’ll have to slog through it to get to the art.

A non-traditional art school (academy of art, CCA, Art Center) will be more focused. I’ve also found that these schools are more flexible with GPA if your visual work is strong. I looked at your deviantart site, and you have a very creative eye - your graphic design and computer art work is looking good - get it onto it’s own site, put some organization to the imagery - write a blurb about each project… why you did it, how etc… Perhaps a few non-computer sketches to show you can draw… A good site layout will go a long way too - and get off of deviantart to your own setup if you can…

Then start talking to counselors at art specific schools, and get ready to stay up late and create.

Good luck,

Hey Geoffrey,

Watch out for that IDEO Chicago office, I have a couple friends in Minneapolis who’ve made a nice living redoing designs from that office because the clients couldn’t implement their designs.

Maybe you can get them back on track.

First, let me note that UC is VERY GPA and SAT oriented for its DAAP program. When they say that they want an unweighted 3.5 GPA, they aren’t kidding.

My daughter had an unweighted 3.43 but had taken all tough courses, being in a humanities magnet program. She barely got into DAAP and only got into her second choice, which was digital design. It turns out that she prefers this over her original choice, which was graphic design.

First, get your grades up. If you need to, go to a community college or UC during the first year and try to transfer. Keep in mind that you must get solid grades even to transfer.

Second, if you have a strong portfolio, which my daughter had, submit it. This may have made the difference. Although they don’t require a portfolio, they will examine it. I really think it got her into the program despite being a bit shy of the 3.5 requirement

Third, meet face to face with the DAAP folks, It is important. If they can be convinced of your passion, you may have a change.

Fourth: take drawing and other art classes in high school, even if you have to take these courses in your local community college on the weekend. This is what my daughter did, and it helped her develop her portfolio enough to get admitted to Carnegie Mellon and waitlisted at RISD

I can tell you that , if you believe the ratings and rankings, the DAAP school is one of the top ranked design schools in the nation, exceeding even RISD, CMU and Pratt in a number of areas. It is certainly worth the hassle and hard work in geting admitted there.