Oct 5, 2019

Got talent? Don’t miss college fairs for students in the visual and performing arts!

Students who excel in visual and performing arts have amazing opportunities to develop their talents in a variety of post-secondary arts programs.

And if you’re in this very select group, colleges, universities, festivals and conservatories want to introduce themselves at a series of special college fairs and portfolio review sessions.

This fall, high school singers, dancers, and artists should consider attending one of 26 Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) College Fairs sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

Or if you are more narrowly interested in visual arts, the National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) sponsors a series of Portfolio Days in 26 US and Canadian cities.

NACAC’s PVA College Fairs are targeted to students interested in pursuing undergraduate or graduate study in music, theater, art, dance, or other related disciplines.

These fairs assemble groups of experts who provide information on educational opportunities, admission requirements, and financial aid. They also advise on portfolio development and auditions.

Free and open to the public, PVA College Fairs do not require pre-registration, although the opportunity to register is offered online. And a list of participating institutions is provided with registration.

An entirely separate program, NPDA Portfolio Days offer opportunities for students to receive free advice, counseling, and critique from some of the best academics in the art business.

Upcoming Portfolio Days are scheduled in major cities across the country from Boston to San Francisco, and they traditionally wrap up in January at the Ringling College of Art & Design, in Sarasota, Florida.

And these are pretty incredible events. Students drive long distances to stand in lines clutching portfolios, paintings, sculpture, pottery, and other creations. They bring sketchbooks, works in progress, and finished pieces—some small and others quite large. It’s an amazing experience!

At the head of each line, experts from National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)-accredited colleges take considerable time to offer support and constructive criticism, as well as to give pointers on how to build a portfolio. No one is hurried, and every question is answered. Several (not all) participating schools even accept portfolios on the spot as the visual portion of an individual application.

Also free and open to the public, Portfolio Days require no registration and operate on a first come, first served basis. Note that sometimes the lines can be quite long!

Although PVA College Fairs and NPDA Portfolio days generally attract high school students, some Portfolio Days are now labeled “graduate.” Check the website for more details.

And be aware that high school programs are not just for seniors. Underclassmen are strongly encouraged to get a head start by taking advantage of the opportunity to get free advising from experts in the arts.

More information on Portfolio Days may be found on the NPDA website. A complete schedule of PVA College Fairs as well as terrific advice on the application process for performing and visual arts students is provided on the NACAC website.

And for the “backstory” on the college arts scene, be sure to check out the 2019 Guide to Performing & Visual Arts Colleges which is offered as a free digital download by TeenLife Magazine.

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