PreCollege Program FAQ

  1. How competitive is the application process?
  2. What makes a strong portfolio?
  3. I don’t have an art teacher at my school. Who should write my letter of recommendation?
  4. What will my weekly schedule look like?
  5. Why are studio hours required?
  6. How do I register for classes?
  7. What happens if my first-choice class is full?
  8. What materials will I need for my classes?
  9. What do my expenses and fees pay for?
  10. Is financial aid available?
  11. I haven’t submitted my taxes for 2013 yet. Can I send in the information for 2012 with the Scholarship Application instead?
  12. What do students usually do for meals?
  13. Outside of class, what activities are there?
  14. What if I am local and do not want to live in the residence hall?
  15. Tell me more about the final exhibition…
  16. I have a question that isn’t on this list. Who can I contact to get an answer?


  1. What makes a strong portfolio?
    At SFAI, we recognize the varying ways to approach portfolio development, and we carefully review each one based on its individual merits. Your portfolio might include examples of painting, drawing, digital media, mixed media, photography, film or video, printmaking, sculpture, or documentation of performances or installations—and this list by no means exhausts the possible combinations of media.

    You should present your portfolio in the simplest and most professional manner possible. If you are struggling to narrow your portfolio down to eight pieces, consider what would make sense together on one wall of your room. Rather than trying to show us a little bit of everything that you’ve done, select the pieces that you feel are strongest overall.

    Please send high-quality images of your work that present it accurately (properly cropped, in focus, and with accurate color representation). We are looking for portfolios that show us your artistic vision, passion, and commitment. If you have questions as you go through the process, feel free to call, email, or meet with us. We are happy to help!


  1. How competitive is the application process?
    As a college credit-bearing program, we want to ensure that every student admitted is prepared for the program’s rigor. It is important that your application reflect passion and dedication to your art practice, and each component will help us evaluate whether the program will fit your artistic goals and background. We accept artists from a range of backgrounds, and recognize that not everyone has access to high-quality art courses in their region or schools. If we feel there is an element of your application that needs improvement, we will contact you and provide you with the opportunity to strengthen that element.


  1. I don’t have an art teacher at my school. Who should write my letter of recommendation?
    The person writing your letter of recommendation should be able to speak to your creativity, academic performance, maturity, motivation, independence, and potential. It is best if they are someone that has supported you in a learning environment, but it will not detract from your application if the letter is not from an art teacher. We often receive letters from college counselors, school administrators, and teachers that support artistic projects in their non-art classes.


  1. What will my weekly schedule look like?
    Students are in class Monday–Friday from 9:30 am–4:30 pm, with required studio hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 pm–8:30 pm.

    Studio courses are Monday–Thursday, with morning class from 9:30 am–12:30 pm, and afternoon courses from 1:30–4:30 pm. Friday workshops and the Art in Context class enhance this core schedule. Friday workshops occur Friday morning from 9:30 am–12:30 pm and Art In Context in the afternoon from 1:30–4:30 pm.

    Students have the weekends free. There are many social activities planned by housing staff, which students can participate in throughout the week. The campus is also open for students if they need to work on projects in the studios.


  1. Why are studio hours required?
    During the PreCollege Program, students earn six units of college credit for full-time enrollment. According to accreditation guidelines, students must meet for 90 contact hours per 3 unit class in order to earn this college credit. Studio hours help students meet these requirements.

    Faculty members work hard to ensure that assignments and expectations for studio hours are well-defined, and staff and teaching assistants are on-hand to support students through the process. In addition, studio hours serve to create a strong community of artists between all students, encourage collaboration and inspiration, and allow dedicated space and time to complete projects.


  1. How do I register for classes?
    After acceptance to the program, PreCollege staff will call you to register for classes. This conversation allows students to ask questions, and helps staff place students in their ideal learning environment, with faculty that will support their artistic growth. Acceptance to the PreCollege Program does not automatically enroll you in classes. We recommend checking your voicemail and email frequently throughout the application process.


  1. What happens if my first-choice class is full?
    We will put you on the waitlist if the class you want is full, and will contact you immediately if a spot opens up. Remember that even if you don’t get into your first-choice class, you will have the opportunity to explore new mediums and work with new faculty during Friday workshops.

    In order to have greater flexibility in choosing classes, we recommend applying early, and submitting your Statement of Intent and $100 tuition deposit as soon as possible upon acceptance into the program. One of the enormous benefits of studying at SFAI is the low faculty-to-student ratio. Most courses are limited to only 12 students, and can fill quickly as a result. It is also always a good idea to have a “Plan B” in case your first-choice class is full.


  1. What materials will I need for my classes?
    The materials you will need are class-specific. Each faculty member develops their own materials list, and PreCollege staff send them out to students approximately two weeks before the start date of the program. We ask that you bring all of your materials to the first day of class so you can start working right away. For a list of San Francisco art supply stores click here.

    When planning your budget for the program, keep in mind that supplies for most courses cost approximately $250.


  1. What do my expenses and fees pay for?
    The cost of tuition covers two studio classes, Friday workshops, the Art in Context class (including the price of admission to Bay Area museums), and lunchtime activities. The cost of housing covers 5 weeks of room and board, residence hall amenities, the supervision and support of professional housing staff, and Residence Advisors, housing programs, and weekday breakfast and lunchtime meals.

    The total cost of the five-week program for commuters is $3,000. The cost for residents is $5,000.


  1. Is financial aid available?
    Need-based scholarships are available to a limited number of students. Unfortunately, the number of students demonstrating need often outweighs our giving capacity. As a result, most scholarship recipients receive partial scholarships. We encourage you to apply for a scholarship with us, but to also look into alternative scholarship opportunities (such as crowdfunding campaigns, scholarships through local businesses, personal art sales, etc.).

    Your acceptance to the program is not affected in any way if you apply for a scholarship. We keep the PreCollege Program application separate from the scholarship application, which is reviewed by our Financial Aid department, using the Federal Methodology approved by Congress to estimate Expected Family Contribution. If you have a question regarding the scholarship application form, please contact PreCollege staff.


  1. I haven’t submitted my taxes for 2013 yet. Can I send in the information for 2012 with the Scholarship Application instead?
    Yes, absolutely. We ask that you provide us with the most recent tax information that you have.


  1. What do students usually do for meals?
    The cost of the program automatically enrolls each student in a weekday breakfast and lunch meal plan for the SFAI Café. They offer a variety of items, including pastries, fruit, sandwiches, burritos, salads, coffee and tea, in addition to daily specials for breakfast and lunch.

    Most students living in the residence hall choose to make communal meals, or visit local restaurants. Please plan your budget for weekends and dinners according to your dietary habits. If you have severe dietary restrictions, and are concerned about the meal plan, please contact PreCollege staff.


  1. Outside of class, what activities are there?
    We have many extracurricular activities planned for you! During the day, we will have lunchtime activities a few times a week. Examples of past activities include cupcake sculptures, claytionary, live music, sketchbook sharing, or a picnic in the meadow. After class, the housing staff offer exciting, optional activities nearly every day of the week, such as karaoke, movie nights, trips to the farmer’s market, thrift-store shopping, a Mission District Taco Crawl, street-art tours, and more.


  1. What if I am local and do not want to live in the residence hall?
    We are always excited to have local students in the PreCollege Program. We are aware that the commuter experience is different from the residence experience, and have developed programming to help build community among all students. In addition to lunchtime activities and studio hours, we encourage you to take advantage of the residence hall activities, which are open to all PreCollege students, regardless of housing.


  1. Tell me more about the final exhibition…
    The final exhibition is your time to celebrate the accomplishments and work you created over the course of the five-week program. Participation and attendance at the final exhibition is a requirement for each of our classes, and not participating could negatively impact your final grades. We display work all over campus, including the Diego Rivera Gallery alongside this mural, and also hold a screening of the Digital Animation and Experimental Cinema films in the SFAI Lecture Hall.

    You will be actively involved in all aspects of the exhibition process, from creating artwork and taking part in the installation, to discussing your work with friends and family. In addition to being the last day of the Precollege Program, the final exhibition marks an important step in your artistic practice.

    You can view past final exhibitions on our Facebook page. We hope your family and friends will attend as well!


  1. I have a question that isn’t on this list. Who can I contact to get an answer?Please contact PreCollege staff by phone, email, or in person. We are:

•  Barbara Garber, Director of Continuing Education
•  Emily Shallman, Continuing Education Coordinator

We are both happy to answer any questions that you have!

415.749.4554 /