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UCSD admissions/general info?


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Hey everyone,

I am planning on applying to several MFA programs for Fall 2013, but UCSD is by far at the top of my list. Several aspects of the program appeal to specific artistic/intellectual/professional interests in a way no other program i've come across can quite match. I'm aware of their reputation for being very selective (an understatement), but am wondering if anyone has more specific insight into what areas they emphasize most in their admissions process.

Basically, all I am worried about is my GPA from undergrad, which is just over a 3.0 from from a school that is unfortunately kind of mediocre. There are plenty of reasons for why this happened, but I won't go into them just yet.

I want to say I could easily overcome this through other, much stronger areas of my application. I've been able to build up a pretty extensive and versatile list of professional experience, despite my non-stellar academic performance. I will luckily have 3 very solid recommendations, and am confident I can make a pretty compelling argument for why UCSD is particularly suited to my interests, along with what I can bring to the program. And for what it's worth, a past professor who will be writing one of my letters happens to be a friend of Norman Bryson. Hopefully that will work in my favor.

Despite all this, I'm still a bit unsure of my chances. I'd love to hear from those of you who have first-hand experience with the admissions process. Any insight whatsoever would be appreciated, however. And for lack of a better cliche I am wary of putting all of my eggs into one basket, so recommendations for similar programs to look into as alternates would be helpful.

Thanks in advance.

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I don't know anything about UCSD in particular, but in general the portfolio is by far the most important aspect of your application. Most schools will look only at the portfolios in the first round of review, and eliminate a whole bunch of people based on portfolio alone. Then they might look at the written statements, and eliminate another batch. Once they've narrowed the pool down to a group with strong portfolios and strong statements, they'll start looking at references and maybe transcripts.

Basically, I wouldn't worry at all about a 3.0 gpa, since the transcript is at the bottom of the priority list and 3.0 isn't notably bad. Focus on your portfolio and your statement. And then again on your portfolio.

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So when UCSD totally allowed the whole wide world to see the applicants to the program (through their online portfolio that they have you build), I got an insight into the type of people they are looking for. They even had some kind of ranking system in place, so one could see who was ranked the highest. The people they seem to be into are usually very heavily based in art/technology/science/philosophy and, from the work they ranked, how those things tied together in the portfolio. A lot of the work was very interdiciplinary, very sculptural or performative. A lot of video.

My suggestion to you, if that really is your top choice, would be to research the program a lot between now and the deadline. Google people who have graduated from the program. Know that Lev Manovich is a bigwig there and he's all about the "new" new media. Look at current grad work. Also, I know a few people from this forum have gotten in. I would search through the threads, find them and PM them if they don't respond to this specific thread.

To reiterate lfwd, I wouldn't worry so much about your GPA or your no name school. Just make sure your portfolio is stellar.

Similar programs? I would check out RISD's D+M, Carnagie Melon, SUNY Buffalo's Visual Studies, and Cal Arts' Art and Technology. I see you're already looking into NYU and University of Minnesota. Both of those programs I think would be great for what it seems you are looking for.

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I figured I shouldn't worry too much about the GPA, but that gave me the confirmation I was looking for.

And Latte, your suggestions for other programs are pretty spot on, so far. SUNY Buffalo is definitely towards the top of my list now. And from what you said I feel like my work will fit what UCSD is looking for now, so that's encouraging. Norman Bryson and Lev Manovich are my biggest draw to them in terms of faculty, but seeking out the big names probably isn't the best strategy.Good to have a few other schools on my list that seem just as strong/suited to my interests .

Thank you both for replying - that gives me pretty much exactly what I was looking for, for now at least.

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