Tips for National Portfolio Day

Tips for National Portfolio Day

This was my daughter’s first National Portfolio Day and we wanted to share tips that we learned the hard way:

  • You do not need to pre-register for National Portfolio Day but we highly recommend it because there was a separate line for those who registered upon arrival and this line went after the pre-registered line.
  • NOTE that the website for National Portfolio Day is unclear about the importance of pre-registering!
  • Arrive early! We got there are 9:30am for the event which started at noon. We were not allowed into the convention center until 10am where upon the line started forming. If you get there are noon or later, you risk not being able to show your portfolio to in-demand schools.

National Portfolio Day

  • Bring an iPad or computer to show your portfolio online. You will need to submit your portfolio via Slideshare anyway which will require you to photograph and upload your work. There was a long line for Rhode Island School of Design, but they formed a separate line NOT AT THE TABLES for those students who had 100% of their portfolio online. This line was very short!
  • Make sure your iPad and/or computer is fully charged. Also bring a back up battery for your device! You do not want your device to die during your portfolio review.
  • Have a game plan for the schools that you want to see. Anticipate which school on your list will be the most in-demand and start there. Have a friend or family member that you bring along specifically to stand in line for you to wait in the next longest line of the school you want to see.

Tips for National Portfolio Day

  • Takes notes on what each person says about your work after your review. Each school has different requirements and specific things that they are seeking in applicants’ work. Their feedback is meant to help steer your final portfolio, particularly for those last pieces that you are creating.
  • Follow up with each person you met with with a thank you note or email. It’s just good manners and might help that admissions person or professor remember you when it comes time to review your application.
  • Plan a food stop after it’s over. Give yourself some downtime to process the feedback and refuel. Receiving feedback on your portfolio is exhausting and stressful.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back for going to National Portfolio Day. You are demonstrating a high degree of commitment to each school that you saw!

RISD at National Portfolio Day in Boston with Antonio Peters

p.s. Here are a few more helpful videos about applying to art school:

  • Portfolio Day (and RISD has online Portfolio Review also!)

  • Take risks

  • What to include in your portfolio

  • Common Application and Slideroom

More about Art Colleges from our college tours:

Visiting Pratt

Visiting California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

Visiting California College of the Arts

Top Art and Design Colleges

Visiting Emily Carr Art  + Design University

Applying to Art School: School of Visual Arts

RISD Pre-College Program

Visiting West Coast Art Schools & Foodie Stops Nearby

Applying to RISD: Advice from Antonio Peters in Admissions


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. Dee

    Have to admit that I had no idea what you were talking about at first! Is this a national thing – do they have these all over the country or just in major markets? I realize this is for art school, but I can’t help thinking how nice it would be if all schools went toward something like a portfolio for admissions. It would be so much more engaging for kids than ACTs and SATs.

  2. This is a great overview for anyone looking to apply to art school!
    maryanne recently posted…2018 Word of the Year and Setting Goals for January 2018My Profile

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