Applying to Art School: Visiting School of Visual Arts

Applying to Art School: Visiting School of Visual Arts

My two daughters and I spent five days in New York City over February break to visit art schools for my oldest.

Jenny Brown Artist

Jenny Brown. Homesickness 2. Pen & collage on antique photo. 2016

We brought our friend along, the artist Jenny Brown, who attended School of Visual Arts for her M.F.A. for help navigating the streets of NYC. Our trip was jam packed and included 4 art museums, 1 art gallery, two art schools, two colleges, and a lot of foodie stops.

Here’s a video of our Monday when we visited School of Visual Arts, Museum of Modern Art, Neue Gallery, Columbia University, and ABC Carpet and Home. Foodie stops included a bagel-off between Pick-A-Bagel vs. Absolute Bagel. Absolute Bagel won.

Our first art school visit was to School of Visual Arts (SVA). My daughter, Grasshopper and Sensei, had spent last summer at Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program for six weeks. She also has taken a lot of classes at Mass College of Art, including two Xtreme Weeks, so this gave her some perspective to compare other art schools to.

RISD Pre-College 2016 Drawing Fundamentals

Our first impression of SVA started off positively. It’s in a nice part of NYC. The school visit session was well attended. An admissions person talked to the group before we split up by major for a school tour by an SVA student.

Applying to Art School: School of Visual Arts

I thought the SVA admissions person gave very good advice on how to apply to art schools and I am posting it below in four parts:

  • General advice on apply to any art school including requirements and what they are looking.
  • The art portfolio: how many pieces, what they are looking for, how to submit.
  • Admissions for Fine Art (School of Visual Arts is particularly strong in Fine Art!).
  • Admissions for Film. This is good general advice for anyone interested in applying to film school.


This first video contains advice for applying to any art school including the requirements. It also includes applying for photography (10-20 slides submitted via SlideRoom).

What should you include in your art portfolio and how many pieces should you include?

Applying for Fine Art? Here’s what to expect from the School of Visual Arts.

Applying to film school? What exactly is Admissions looking for? This is School of Visual Arts advice but it applies to any film portfolio.

After our tour of School of Visual Arts, it’s important to write down your impressions of the school. Some college counselors suggest keeping a small notebook just for college visits. PickyKidPix is only a freshman in high school but I wanted her to see Columbia. We did the briefest of visits but it was enough to form an impression.

Applying to Art School: School of Visual Arts

A notebook will be helpful as the college/art school application process is a lengthy one. Looking back on first impressions can be helpful when admissions letters come in and you have to decide which college/art school to accept or revisit.

SVA Tour

This is our first impressions of School of Visual Art (SVA):

  • It’s strong for Fine Art (if you want to be an artist hanging in a museum).
  • It’s located walking distance from Chelsea which has over 900 art galleries. Visiting art shows is part of SVA curriculum and takes full advantage of this.
  • SVA has over 800 faculty members who work full time in the creative arts and teach part time.
  • SVA’s illustration exhibit during the tour was of faculty.
  • The photography student work that we saw displayed was really unimpressive.
  • Because the school is urban, the buildings are spread out over many streets. The school feels cramped for space.
  • There were no student work displayed for Industrial Design which my daughter is interested in.
  • After the tour, we all agreed that SVA was not a good fit for my daughter.

SVA School of Visual Arts Student Center

Applying to Art School: Visiting School of Visual Arts

p.s. More about Art Colleges from our college tours:

Visiting Pratt

Visiting Emily Carr Art + Design University in Canada

Visiting California College of the Arts

Visiting California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts)

Top Art and Design Colleges

RISD Pre-College Program

Visiting West Coast Art Schools & Foodie Stops Nearby

Applying to RISD: Advice from Antonio Peters in Admissions

Tips for National Portfolio Day


and some fun stuff …

If you are visiting New York City, here are our cheap foodie finds.

Our NYC (Cheap) Foodie Finds

45 Art Gifts for Seriously Arty Kids (by my arty daughter)

Art Competitions for Kids and Teens

Our Art Gift Kits for Arty Kids

10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids

Best Toys for Arty Kids

An Arts Studio of One’s Own

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. It sounds like a worthwhile visit even though the school is not a good fit!
    maryanne recently posted…Fun Math For Kids: The Best Math Games And ActivitiesMy Profile

  2. What a fun bonding time with your daughter. It’s so good to check out all of the schools in person so she finds the school that meets her expectations and a school where she will feel comfortable.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…Red Butterfly by A. L. SonnichsenMy Profile

  3. It’s good you visited. You need the ‘click’ with the right school.

  4. Thanks for sharing all of this info, Mia!!

  5. Marisol

    Hello!! My daughter is a junior at HS in VA and we are planning to visit RISD in Feb.

    Does you daughter went to RISD?

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