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Mairead D. (Oakton HS, 2021) University of Virginia (UVA)


  • University of Virginia (UVA) - Architecture, Early Action

1. How do you feel about your college acceptance? I was pretty confident I was going to get in somewhere, but when I found out I got into my top choice (that was also my reach school), I was surprised in the best way possible. I’m extremely thankful for all the effort the teachers at NYSA put into my success. They truly do care about every student and their art. I sometimes joke with my mom that KJ cared, and stressed, more about my portfolio than I did.

2. What was the most difficult aspect of your portfolio preparation? It was challenging to stay motivated and to find time to work on my art in between school and work, and although it was difficult, it all paid off.

3. When did you start the portfolio class, and how did you prepare your portfolio? I believe I started class towards the middle of my junior year. At that time, I hadn’t taken an art class since 3rd grade so I wasn’t feeling very confident in my abilities as an artist. But with the help of my amazing and patient teachers, I was able to build a pretty solid portfolio in less than a year (something I definitely couldn’t have done on my own).

4. What is your favorite artwork that you made? I would say that my favorite piece is my most recent piece, which is an extremely detailed pencil drawing of the reflection of a stone house in a mirror laying in a bed of grass. I won't lie, I got very discouraged throughout working on the piece due to its many, many repetitive, small details. It was almost painful drawing each blade of grass (there must’ve been hundreds), each grain of the stones, and the shading of every single brick. And even though this was my most meticulous and time consuming drawing, it is by far my favorite. I’m very thankful for the encouragement of my amazing teachers who motivated me to finish the piece.

5. What was the decision process like when looking at schools? I chose UVA specifically because of their architecture program and because it’s not too far from home. It was also the only school that I’d done a college tour of. Even though it was my top choice, I didn’t have very high hopes of getting in. While my GPA and SAT did meet their standards, I have no doubt in my mind that it was my portfolio that ISA helped me cultivate that helped me stand out amongst other applicants.

6. Do you have any advice for the new portfolio students? If you’re like I was and are hesitant to take art classes because you’re not sure if you’re skilled enough, just go for it! The teachers (and students) at ISA are nothing but encouraging and kind. If I was ever feeling discouraged during class, KJ made sure I left feeling confident about my artwork and progress. As long as you work hard and manage your time well, you’ll do great! 7. Tell us your thoughts about the NYSA! When I found out I needed an art portfolio for architecture school, I was worried because I hadn’t taken an art class since 3rd grade. So I frantically searched for art schools near me that offered portfolio preparation classes. NYSA was one of the first I found, and after reading some reviews, exploring their website, and meeting with KJ, I decided to give it a try. I remember feeling nervous and embarrassed about my lack of skill and experience in comparison to other students, but the environment at NYSA is very positive and encouraging. Students love seeing what each other are making and I’ve made some amazing and talented friends during my time at NYSA. Even though I’ve already been accepted to my dream school, I still take classes once a week just because I love my teachers and friends that I’ve been lucky enough to meet at NYSA.

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