University of Cincinnati? (and more)


I am a high school senior. I was recently accepted to the UC Transportation Design Track. I am a little confused as to why they don’t need a portfolio for admission.

Also, I just showed my portfolio to Pratt and Syracuse Univ. and they seemed to like it. They basically said that I needed to work on my drawing skills, but that they could teach me that once I started school. They said that they really were impressed with my ideas and thinking ability.

I also sent an app. and portfolio into to CCS, but the admissions counselor called me up and told me that my drawing skills were not good enough to be accepted, but that I showed a lot of potential and that I should go to school and improve my drawing skills and then reapply.

I guess my question is will I be able to learn the proper way to draw at school, or should I be able to do that already without any training? Also, is the level of ability at UC very high for entering freshman, or will a lot of the people be at the same level that I am at?

(Sorry, I know this is a lot)

Hey, I am a senior at Pratt, and your drawing can definitely improve a lot here if you take the right classes. Foundation years, like they have at Pratt, RISD, and some other schools are very good for improving your drawing ability before you even enter the ID program. There aren’t many kids here who don’t stand by their foundation drawing professor 100%.

Also, there are a few teachers in the ID department who really push drawing and can really allow you to take your work to the next level. I don’t know what your drawing level is like or how much training you have had, but sometimes just being taught the proper technique can improve your drawing a lot.

That being said, while I do love Pratt, it may not be the best place to go if you’re dying for a job in transportation design. We do have plenty of former students at car companies, but I would assume not nearly as many as CCS or Art Center. So that is something you’ll want to think about when making your decision.

I don’t know much about UC, so I can’t really help you there.

If i had it to do all over again, I probably would have attended UC. I know a product design grad from CCS that felt the same way. The work coming out of there over the past couple years has been pretty excpetional. Their coop program is something that is hard to put a value on.
all this being said, i don’t know much about their trans program, but have heard some good things.

Congratulations, I would say UC is an excellent choice. The Co-op program is a great way to gain professional experience and demeanor, plus you can get paid internships. UC is a five year program so theres plenty of time to tune up you sketching ability.

CCS and Art Center are the other schools to consider if you want to work in transportation design, both are more expensive, but both are top notch. If you want to go to schools like these with there price tag I would suggest having your basic drawing skills out of the way so you can focus more on learning the design and technology side of things and really jump into the program.

I don’t know where you live and what resource you have access to, but a good foundation year can make a major difference. I would suggest considering, either getting involved in some quality foundation class or taking it on your self to really build your skill, check out: 2D tutorials

First, Congrats on getting into UC DAAP program. It is one of the harder schools to get into academically.

My daughter goes there now and is majoring in digital design. I can give you some feedback from a parent’s perspective and from feedback from my daughter.

I was initially alarmed that UC didn’t require portfolios, especially since my daughter had a very good one. I was afraid that she wouldn’t be challenged by her foundation courses. She was, in fact, admitted to Carnegie Mellon primarily on the quality of her porfolio,but she did have good academic credentials too. I should note that my worries were baseless since she was challenged by her foundation courses and did learn a lot.

I asked of the DAAP deans about their lack of portofio requirements. They told me that research has shown that high grades with high SATS tend to provide better indicators for success. As for drawing ability, kids tend to pick DAAP because they feel that they have the skills. " If a kid has the talent, UC should be able to train them." HIstorically this has certainly been shown to be true.

It also may surprise you that as little as 20 years ago, design schools didn’t always require portfolios. My wife wouldn’t have had a good fine arts porfolio yet she has become one of the most successful and well-known interior designers in our state. Design does seem like a subject that can be taught to a properly motivated kid. I will admit, however, that I would have personally preferred if UC did use portfolios in admission.

UC DAAP is a terrific school in many ways,especially over the schools that you mentioned.

First, it is a full service university. This allows you to meet kids who aren’t just artists.

Second, there is always things to do. UC has a surprising 10 calendars of events. Yes, some of these calendars may not interest you such as the admission’s calendar, however, if you check on the “Main Street” and “CCM” calendars, you will see that there is something going on daily. If you combine this with their strong sports program, you will never be bored!

Third: DAAP is one of highest ranked design school in the US. They get top, well-known professors who seem to really like teaching. Their facilites are very new and up to date. Compare this to Pratt’s facilites and buildings. Pratt has a lot of deferred maintenance on buildings.

Fourth: It may surprise you that UC was the forerunner of the coop system of education. Coop in integral to many majors especially DAAP majors. They have guaranteed paid coop for 6 quarters. This not only makes UC cheaper than most of the other schools mentioned,but will provide you with a stronger resume than those from other schools. Kids really get out with some strong deisign experience. As one professor noted, " by the time kids become seniors, we (the teaching staff) don’t think of them as students but more as collegues."

I should note that they have coops in most stants and in many foreign countries as well. These coop vary a lot in the work offered. For example, Some lucky Digital Design kids had a coop with David Copperfield developing special effects for his show. Pixar used some kids to work on animated specials. Coops can give fantastic real world experience that isn’t as avialable at other schools. In addition, a large number of kids get offered jobs from their coop employers.

Fifth: UC has some of the newest and best facilites around. For example, they are fully wired for computers in all dorms and in most buildings. Wireless in omnipresent. This isn’t as true for a number of art schools. Also, UC also has one of the best work-out facilites in the nation. Every conceivable athletic machine is there along with running tracks (both indoor and outdoor), tennis courts and large climbing walls. They even have two pools. Speaking of pools, one of them has a “current.” Thus, can swim against the current for more exercise or with the current for fun. You won’t find facilites as good as UC at either Pratt or RISD or even CMU.

Sixth: I can’t speak for their transportatoin design program,but UC has one of the top ranked Industrial Design programs in the Nation. Transportation Design, being a subset of Indurstrial Design, has to be quite good too.

If you like music, UC has some fabulous musical opportunies such as CCM events, private tutoring and a very strong marching and concert band.

I should note that my daughter picked UC over CMU, Syracuse, RIT and other good schools and has NEVER regretted it. She also met two other kids who picked UC over CMU and other top programs as well.

Be advised: UC is a tough, demanding school Kids work very hard in the DAAP school. I don’t think that the academic requirements for other schools at UC, especially in the arts and sciences, are that great. However for some programs like DAAP and CCM, UC is unbeatable.

putting it very simply…

yes you will learn to sketch at UC. But like anyother school that will depend on how much you push yourself. UC (particularly with its co op program) has the potential to give you alot of opportunities to find what you love about design and learn more about it, and get the opportunity to develop the skills you need to be successful. Again you have to take advantage of those opportunities.

That said, Pratt and Syracuse are fine schools with good reputations, but UC is just hands down a better school.

While alot of schools require portfolios UC does not and that policy has been debated several times. UC feels that if it recruits students that are of high academic calibre then they can teach things like drawing, rendering and model making. It’s the critical thinking skills that UC is interested in. Like many schools UC places all design students in a Freshman Foundation year where basic drawing and hand skills are built.

Congrats, and good luck.

…still not convinced?