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Parsons Challenge Essay


31 comments ·save·last comment by Katie W. over 2 years ago

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions about applying/getting accepted to Parsons New School for Design in NYC?
i'm currently in the middle of my junior year of highschool and it has always been my dream to go there.
i am an artist, and im working towards getting my portfolio ready. Also, my gpa is several points higher than the average needed for parsons (yay?)

does anyone have any suggestions on how to best approach this school?
thank you so much :)

over 7 years ago

Learn to draw.

0 ▲ · February 7, 2011

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@Molly M. *loading…*

Mm not be egotistical, but I think I can, pretty well actually :) hehe. Thanks for the advice though..

0 ▲ · February 7, 2011

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I had an interview with someone from Parson's and they reviewed my portfolio at National Portfolio Day in LA. These are tips they gave me and some info.

1) They see thousands of people who can draw, design, etc. Yes, be good at what you do, scratch that....be EXCELLENT at what you do, but your work has to have that 'it' factor. Technical skills are great, but they can be taught. Show work that is original and something that screams VALERIA.
2) Show range with your work. If your strong point is graphite, do portraits, landscapes, etc. In addition to that show some water colors, acrylics, maybe some photography?
3) STILL LIFE. Most art/design schools I saw on that portfolio day want still life when submitting your application. These people see thousands of drawings so this was the ladies suggestion "Surprise us, don't do fruit." She suggested doing drawings that show a lot of skill. She suggested bathrooms because all of the different textures, perspectives, and surfaces.
4) Critique's before you send/show your work! These people will look everything over and over and critique it. If you have a critique or two before hand you can fix some stuff, made add more value, or fix the perspective.

I have two questions.
What do you want to major in their?
Are you sending an application without meeting an admissions person in person or are you going to be able to meet with someone?

0 ▲ · February 7, 2011

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@Richard R. *loading…*

Hello Richard!
wow thank you so much for all this advice, it was exceptionally helpfull :) i'm so jealous that you had a chance to meet with a representative, i was planning to attend NPD but sadly i had a conflict but deff. next year! However i was lucky enough to catch a seminar by the head of the admissions dept. that showed the group some sample quality portfolios (BIG HELP!!)

to answer your questions;
1. I want to major in fashion design, specifically going into haute couture as opposed to just mass marketed items.
2. Im actually attending the summer intensive studies this summer, so hopefully ill get a chance to meet some good people and have some meetings while there. Also, upon submission of my application, i plan on scheduling an interview, since i am also interested in any scholarship/financial aid opportunities.

how about yourself?
are you applying for next fall? if yes, did you get accepted?
what do you want to major in?

0 ▲ · February 7, 2011

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@Valeria S. *loading…*

For fashion, you still do an art portfolio. Just so you know :P

I am planning on applying, probably sometime this week :D
Best of luck to both of us.

0 ▲ · February 7, 2011

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Parsons is easy to get into. You'll have no problem.

0 ▲ · February 9, 2011

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@Richard R. *loading…*

yes, i'm aware (:

oh wow, good luck!
let me know how it goes?

0 ▲ · February 9, 2011

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@Michael E. *loading…*

do you know from experience?

but that's actually reassuring to hear hehe :)

0 ▲ · February 9, 2011

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Need help !!! My dream school is Parsons school for design ,but i heard it is hard to get into i want to major in fashion styling , i am currently a senior in high school working on my portfolio i have a 3.5 gpa and a 22 in me ACT score can i be able to get in ? p.s do i need a SAT score and what other tip or thing i nedd to do to help me to get into parsons . help !!!!!

0 ▲ · August 22, 2013

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hi! im also in the middle of my junior year and my dream is to attend parsons. I want to major in fashion design but my gpa is not all the way there. I have a passion for fashion but not for science in math so it brought my gpa down . Any tips?? Also do you think it would help any if I took a trip to parsons to speak and let them know how hard I will work ? Do you think this will better my chances of being accepted ??? Thankyou so much!!

0 ▲ · February 2, 2014

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@Michael E. *loading…*

really !? my gpa isn't that good!!!

0 ▲ · February 2, 2014

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Hi Agata!
I went to Parsons and it's a great school.
If you are very talented at art you'll have no problem, just make sure your work is very creative and not just technical.

Concerning exams, they are aware that things are different for international students. You can take ESL at Parsons if you get accepted but I don't think you need it. Talk to an advisor about your grade translation.

0 ▲ · February 13, 2014

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@Shara H. *loading…*

Fashion styling is not a major at Parsons.
Maybe you could go into Design Management to be a stylist.
And yes, you need an SAT score

0 ▲ · February 13, 2014

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Hi ! I'm going to apply to Parsons for this fall in the BBA program (strategic design and management). Do you guys have any suggestions as for the parsons challenge as well as the essay, especially for those who were admitted at this program? I really want to enter Parsons.. Please help me ~
Thank you so much!

0 ▲ · February 25, 2014

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Okay I have been planning to go to parsons from two years now, I am a junior at high school and I think and worry about this all the time. If anyone is able to help me, I would really really appreciate it. I am good at art and I actually want to major in fashion marketing/business, I don't want to be a designer but want to major in a business field in Fashion. I heard parsons's business program is one of the best, and I don't really like FIT. My gpa is 3.2 and I am actually studying in a very very competitive school, I have 1700 as my SAT score and have several collage credits from art (subject) at my high school. Can I anyone tell me if I will be suffering from some problems in the application for Parsons next year? Or do I need anything specific?
Please help asap, PARSONS is my DREAM.

0 ▲ · September 4, 2014

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I'm applying to Parsons School of Design for Photography.
Does anyone know how hard or easy that major is? Also, what kind of things they look for in photography portfolios.
Thanks so much.

0 ▲ · January 20, 2015

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Hi my daughter has just been accepted into Parsons for photography on early admissions, her GPA is 3.72 but I dont think this was a major factor. She is well rounded in terms of varsity sports community participation and success in art competitions etc. She recently had her portfolio assessed by several big colleges at NY portfolio day recently. What are they looking for.... well in my opinion they want edgy photography technically good, stories rather than snapshots...something different, do not just take pictures of things around you be prepared to talk about your work (this goes for the submission too) have an inspiration theme or two. Think billboard advertising think differently be prepared to show your processes as well as your end result. Theres a competition to win tuition paid for the four years .... its crazy expensive. But its an honor to be accepted and Parsons opens doors....


This is her entry, it doesn't show her work but you may get some inspiration... she also needs view likes and comments on her video to help her....

0 ▲ · January 27, 2015

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I took Product Design there and also got accepted for MFA (but I did not push thru with the MFA)
I'd say create a good portfolio that would exhibit your creative range. I always want to show my process in the folio, sketches and studies along with the final product.

0 ▲ · April 20, 2015

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Hi! I am also interested in applying for parsons, but i was wondering, in the portfolio can you submit outfit designs or must they be fully made and photographed? Also, it was abit unclear on the website, or i still haven't looked hard enough lol, but are international students able to apply for the Fall term? are international students only able to apply for the spring term?
Sorry, another question: Does the portfolio only show the finished product? or should you show the process in which you took that led you to the finished product?
Thank you! c:

0 ▲ · July 21, 2015

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To top

During the Portfolio Redefined event last week, we heard from a lot of teachers that information on writing for college admissions and examples of admissions essays would be helpful. Here are some tips, requirement examples, guidelines for getting started, and essay examples.

Any feedback, comments and requests are welcome!

WRITING FOR YOUR PORTFOLIOGreat advice from Carolina Wheat, Director of Admissions for Parsons


1. Represent yourself through text

2. Use words you are comfortable using

3. Discuss your process

4. Please do not begin the essay “I always knew I wanted to be an artist”




What do you make, how do you make it, and why do you make? Ultimately, where do you visualize your creative abilities and academic study to take you after your education here at Parsons? (Maximum 500 words.)


In 500 words or less, discuss your reasons for pursuing undergraduate study in the visual arts. Feel free to include any information about yourself, as well as your goals and interests that may not be immediately apparent from the review of your transcripts or portfolio.


Describe when and how you became interested in art, design, writing, architecture, or the particular major to which you are applying. Describe how this interest has manifested itself in your daily life.


What makes you a perfect candidate for FIT? Why are you interested in the major you are applying to? The essay is also your chance to tell us more about your experiences, activities and accomplishments.


 Questions to Get you Started

Begin the process of writing your essay for college admissions by answering these questions for yourself in your sketchbook.  

Tell the truth & the more you write for each question the better.

– Why you do like to make art?

– What materials, themes and CONCEPTS do you use? Why?

– What do you see in your work / What do other people see? (ask friends and family)

– What inspires you?

– What are your goals and aspirations as an artist?

– What schools are you interested in and why?

– What does your work actually look like? Describe one work as an example!

– What do you want to do in the future?

When you’ve answered these questions try to organized them into an outline, or 3 separate paragraphs. Once you’ve organized start to use your answers to make structured sentences. Answering the questions is an exercise to get you writing about your art. Your final essay does not have to include any of your answers verbatim, or it can. 

Make sure that someone else looks over your essay. It is easy to miss mistakes when it’s your own writing. And feedback on how you can improve is always great. 


ARTIST STATEMENT EXAMPLES by accepted students 

ARTIST STATEMENT EXAMPLE for Parsons by Tiffany 

To be able to excavate the bones of ideas that link humanity in one common whole – it is a beautiful, life-long driven process.

I am keen to my surroundings, expecting beauty in the most trivial aspects of daily life. As people head toward their offices, open the bus terminal doors for the people behind them, and dart across the street as the sign signals an alarming red- it is a gift to be able to observe certain gestures expressed by strangers and acquaintances. I will often take the opportunity to absorb the details of the lives of those other than myself. I search there for new inspiration – it is a search to synchronize the heart rhythms of strangers through my artwork.

With the start of an art piece, I begin by wondering how to capture my life and thoughts in a way that creates a private bond with each onlooker. The ultimate purpose of my artwork is for the viewer to reflect upon their lives and remember emotions they have experienced. Through the work it becomes possible to comprehend the similarities we share as human beings.

One aspect of my work that is effective in evoking a sense of commonality is childhood nostalgia. My unique childhood has formed my character as I was intimately exposed to different cultures – South Korea, China, and the United States. As I resided for several years in each of the three countries, I accumulated knowledge through learning the diverse languages, colors, food, clothing, and mannerisms of these countries. Seeing the differences opened my eyes and altered the approaches I take toward exploring the unfamiliar.

I have developed ideas for a few of my favorite art pieces from my most valued childhood memories, with the hopes to share these fortunate experiences – the time I tied a rope around my pet baby chick’s leg and explored the playground, and the exciting elevator ride with my brother with stacks of soda in our hands. Handcrafted with sculpey and painted with acrylic paint, the sculptures of those memories evoke a sense of nostalgia and excitement with their vibrant colors.

The seemingly simple vibrancy of my work is balanced with structural stability. One example is the sculptural piece titled “Thinking Outside of the Box” which is intended to be ironic because the brain-shaped structure is built with wired boxes. I placed a light bulb in the center encasing it in a mirror-walled box to depict the flash of a new idea as its light fails to pass beyond it’s walls. This piece portrays the human mind as it fails to improve on an idea because of other shortsighted and entrapping thoughts. Such fallacy is a human characteristic that is universally shared.

My search for similarities among humanity has become increasingly simple as my empathy and compassion has grown. As I learn an individual’s story, I aspire to serve as a medium, expressing certain qualities with my creative work. Each person reflects back to me humanity’s common ground.



Many people have told me that I have a restless personality, which I believe to be true. I constantly seek experiences that will make me feel alive. Maybe this why I do the things that I do. I love hiking and traveling, especially to places that seem untouched by man. Most of my inspiration comes from that moment when I absorb the spectrum of beauty in front of me through my eyes. I process the thoughts that subsequently run through my head, and when it is released through every pore of my body, I recreate the feelings through my art.

Even asleep, my thoughts are seeking and restless in the sense that when I have fallen into a deep slumber, and I am no longer physically mobile, my thoughts turn to dreams.  When I am asleep my dreams are either rather disturbing or mysterious and serene. It seems that most people forget their dreams when they awake, but I remember my vivid dreams clearly, as if they were memories from waking life. I am not afraid to show, through my illustrations, what my dreams reveal to me; what I desire, what offends me and scares me. By using my dreams as inspiration I feel unlimited in expressing myself.

I never questioned that I would pursue a future in the field of Illustration because when I am drawing and painting I feel the most comfort. Whether I am reading a book, hiking, taking a picture, or even listening to music, it always leads me into the depths of my mind, and I know that the thoughts will eventually translate into an illustration. I have discovered that art has no boundaries, and that there is no better means to capture the imagery that I create in my head.

Although my ideas come to me most often when I am by myself, I am a very social person, and I am inspired by other creative people. I need to be constantly surrounded by individuals who will fuel this. There is no better way to ensure that I will be, than to attend an art school full of diverse yet creative students.

The School of Visual Arts is a school that has many qualities that suit me. The faculty at SVA is impressive, and the effort that SVA makes to look for artistic minds, by visiting places such as Ashcan Studio, really caught my attention. I am also impressed by SVA student work. During a SVA admissions counselor’s presentation, I was able to see examples of projects by SVA students and they were all inspiring.  Some of the works held me in a trance. I was in awe and often had the chills on my skin when looking at some of the work. If the students at SVA are making such outstanding work, then I know that the school has a lot to offer me.



I feel that have two identities. Outside of my home I live under the name Helena Juhee Kim, while at home I am my parents’ rebellious teenage daughter, Juhee Kim. Throughout my life I have struggled to define my identity. I have had difficulty figuring myself out, who I represent in this society. However, since my entrance in to high school I have realized that my whole life revolves around art. It has taken me back to the very beginning of my life. I recall that it was art that made me feel happy and complete as a child. It was what I loved.

I believe that all artwork has a purpose. It tells a story. When you see an artwork it is as if it’s trying to whisper the artists story to you. Art does not have to be a visual image. To me, art can be a story. I often come up with new creative ideas through telling stories with words. Words are a very powerful tool to express messages and fantasies. For me, however, words are not enough—if there is a story then there must be an image to portray its meanings. I want visually illustrate it. Images can be mysterious in ways that words are not. Art reveals the artist, the type of person he or she is—not only with the way an artist uses color, their line making and style, but also through the core concept the artist focuses on. It interests me that a certain topic or story can be so essential to a person that they had to make it into art.

My junior year in high school year I made the decision to pursue illustration as a career. Attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in New York definitely played a role in finding my interest among the many majors of art. As a junior I decided to take the classes Illustration and Mural. It was my toughest year, as I had personal issues in addition to academic stresses. Art helped me get through these hardships. It pulled me out from my distress. Moreover, it made me love and understand ‘art’ better. In the end, it was art that helped me grow as a person. It was then I understood what it truly meant to be an artist.

Through my many struggle in life, art is what saves me. In the end it all comes down to what I truly want to pursue in life—in the future, what I see myself doing and love being involved in. Art makes me realize that there is a purpose for everyone. And I believe that by going to an art college my love of art will flourish even more, as I get closer to my dream and start anew to become even a better artist.






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Posted on Posted in Admissions EssaysTagged #art, #art school admissions, #art school nyc, #ashcan studio of art, #college essay, #essay, #portfolio redefined, #the joan mitchell foundation, #the museum of art and design, admissions essay, art portfolio, art school, parsons

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