Creative Minds Matter

Welcome to Portfolio College Counseling. If you’re a visual thinker, are willing to push the boundaries of your own work and want to know more about your options for college, we want to hear from you.


what-we-do     What We Do

Our core belief is that each student is unique. Each counseling plan is developed based on your needs, abilities and educational objectives. Helping you tell your story to colleges is my forté (and making you look good makes me happy). To accommodate our students all over the world, scheduled meetings are via Skype. We listen carefully to your ideas and objectives, and offer review, discussion and advisement related to any or all of the following:

Art + Design College Counseling

  • Degree programs and majors
  • Review and critique of current portfolio
  • Structured portfolio development and content editing
  • Assignment and critiques of projects to enhance and build portfolio content
  • College-specific requirements (including supplemental visual assignments)
  • Strategies for showcasing strengths to exceed requirements
  • Maximizing portfolio for multiple applications
  • Best practices for prospective professional artists
  • Extra- or co-curricular arts education
  • Pre-College summer art programs
  • Preparation of artist’s statements and visual supplements
  • Creative resume
  • Labeling, identification and inventory of artwork
  • Technical considerations: photography, digitization
  • Slideroom and Common Application Supplement submission

Comprehensive College Counseling (for all students)

  • Academics: transcripts and course planning
  • Assessments: formal and informal interests and abilities
  • Standardized testing: planning and analysis
  • Extra- and co-curricular activities, internships
  • Targeted best-fit college list
  • Transfer, gap, pre-college and summer programs
  • Time management strategies
  • Essays and statements
  • Recommendations
  • Interviews and college visits
  • Standardized applications: Common App and others
  • Resume creation/update
  • FAFSA and Profile applications
  • Scholarship search
  • Admissions decisions and award packages

Other Services:

We partner short- or long-term with other college consultancies who wish to supplement their range of services on behalf of creative students. We create presentations, webinars, and workshops for student and parent groups, other consultants, art organizations, and colleges. Contact us and let us know how we can help you target and communicate with your colleagues or student cohort. We welcome the challenge!

How We Work: Counseling Plans

Comprehensive Plan

For art and non-art sophomores, juniors or rising seniors (high school or college). Outline of student objectives and coordinated services is developed after consultation with student and/or parent. Fees are based on amount of time these services require, typically 20-40 hours.

Targeted Plan

College counseling for a specific task; for example, portfolio preparation, college list generation or essay assistance only. Similar to our comprehensive plan, but with fewer services and hours. A typical portfolio assistance-only plan is 6-10 hours.

Review + Recommendations

An assessment and written critique of student’s existing artwork or portfolio, highlighting strengths and weaknesses. Suggestions for effectively enhancing work and developing portfolio. Review of college list, plus recommendations and requirements for additional suitable programs. Flat fee.

Consultation with arts or counseling professionals also available upon request at an hourly rate.

results     2017 Results

College Acceptances


Accepted to a top choice art school

Dollars in scholarships awarded

College Acceptances 2008 - 2017 (Click to see list)
  • Academy of Art University
  • American University
  • Architectural Association School of Architecture, London
  • Arizona State University
  • Art Center College of Design
  • Art Institute of Boston
  • Bard College
  • Barry University
  • Baylor University
  • Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Belmont University
  • Bennington College
  • Boston Architectural College
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Brooklyn College
  • Brunel University, UK
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • California College of Art & Design
  • California State University, Long Beach
  • California State University, Pomona
  • California State University, San Luis Obispo
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cazenovia College
  • Central St. Martin’s College, University of the Arts London
  • Chapman University
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • City University London
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Claremont Graduate University
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • Colby College
  • College for Creative Studies
  • College of Charleston
  • Columbia College Chicago
  • Columbia University
  • Cooper Union
  • Cornell University
  • Courtauld Institute London
  • Dickinson College
  • Drexel University
  • Emily Carr University of Art & Design
  • Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Fordham University
  • Georgetown University
  • George Washington University
  • Goldsmiths College London
  • Harvard University
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Ithaca College
  • James Madison University
  • John Jay College
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kent State University
  • King’s College London
  • Kingston University London
  • Laguna College of Art & Design
  • Lasell College
  • Lesley University College of Art & Design
  • Lewis and Clark College
  • LIM College
  • London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London
  • Manhattanville College
  • Marist College
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Massachusetts College of Art
  • Merrimack College
  • Miami University Ohio
  • Monmouth University
  • Montserrat College of Art
  • Moore College of Art & Design
  • New York University
  • Northeastern University
  • Northwestern University
  • Notre Dame University
  • Ohio State University
  • Otis College of Art & Design
  • Pacific Northwest College of Art & Design
  • Parsons The New School for Design
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Philadelphia University
  • Pomona College
  • Pratt Institute
  • Princeton University
  • Purdue University
  • Queen Mary College, University of London
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Richmond, the American University in London
  • Ringling College of Art & Design
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Roger Williams University
  • Royal Holloway College, University of London
  • Rutgers University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • San Francisco Art Institute
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University
  • San Jose State University
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Savannah College of Art & Design
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • School of Visual Arts
  • Scripps College
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Seattle University
  • Skidmore College
  • Smith College
  • Sotheby’s Graduate Institute
  • Springfield College
  • SUNY Albany
  • SUNY Binghamton University
  • SUNY Buffalo
  • SUNY Cortland
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • SUNY New Paltz
  • SUNY Purchase College
  • SUNY Stony Brook University
  • Syracuse University
  • Temple University
  • The Cooper Union
  • Tufts University
  • UMass Amherst
  • UMass Dartmouth
  • Union College
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Arizona
  • University of British Columbia, Canada
  • University of California Berkeley
  • University of California Irvine
  • University of California Los Angeles
  • University of California Riverside
  • University of California San Diego
  • University of California Santa Barbara
  • University of California at Santa Cruz
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art
  • University of Hartford
  • University of Hawaii Manoa
  • University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
  • University of Indiana Bloomington
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Melbourne, Australia
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of New South Wales, Australia
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Puget Sound
  • University of Redlands
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Southampton, UK
  • University of Tampa
  • University of Texas Austin
  • University of the Arts
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Washington Seattle
  • University of Wisconsin Madison
  • Ursinus College
  • Utica College
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Wellesley College
  • Wesleyan University
  • West Virginia University
  • Whitman College
  • Willamette University
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Yale University

testimonials     Testimonials

faq     Frequently Asked Questions

Is Portfolio College Counseling a service just for art students?

No. Although we began by supporting student artists with their college planning, we’ve grown to be much more. Portfolio College Counseling now helps all students focus on their goals and hone the skills needed to reach them. Many of our clients are non-art students who go on to major in humanities, business, STEAM, and professional fields. In the meantime, our reputation as an international resource for college art education and careers keeps on spreading.

What’s an independent college counselor and why do I need one?

An independent counselor is an educational consultant trained and dedicated to advising the college-bound student, exclusive of any institution, and auxiliary to their school counselor. We provide one-on-one advisement throughout the entire process of transitioning to college that is tailored to your individual needs, in a timely manner and with a minimum of stress.

I don’t know if your services are right for me. How do I find out?

Because our consulting programs are customized, we’ll guide you to explore, identify, learn and accomplish just what you want to, whether you’re at the beginning of the application process or further along. Call us at 203.947.9899 or email us to schedule a short phone consultation. We’ll listen to your concerns, explain our services and answer your questions. There’s no obligation whatsoever.

What’s included in Portfolio’s consulting programs?

It depends on your goals, where you are in the college planning process, and the program options we decide on together. Refer to our Services section for detailed info.

I don't know what I should be doing next and I'm undecided about a major. Are your programs appropriate for me?

Yes, definitely. You’ll get information and resources at our meetings that will help you sort through the maze of options and choose the right college path for you. By the way, up to 80% of entering college freshmen are undecided about their educational paths or future careers. So don’t worry, we’ll steer you in the right direction.

When should I start planning for college?

The ideal time to begin working with Portfolio College Counseling is early in your junior year of high school, or junior year in college if you are applying to grad school. This allows enough time for strategic planning that includes in-depth discussions about your interests, abilities, and objectives.

What classes should I take now?

Planning your schedule ahead of time puts you in control – you’ll have less stress later on. We’ll review your transcript to make sure it covers all graduation requirements and positions you well for college. A sequence of challenging classes and AP or Honors classes shows colleges your interest and commitment to academics and/or art.

What if I’m not sure I want to be a professional artist?

It’s a personal decision we’ll help you to explore. You’ll learn about art majors and career paths and develop your artwork at the same time. Reviewing your options with us will help make the decision easier.

What about majors in art?

There are abundant major options in art and design fields (we’ve found 100+), beyond the traditional disciplines of drawing, painting or sculpture. From fashion to interactive to transportation design to interdisciplinary majors that emphasize design thinking, there’s an area of specialization that’s right for you. We have prepared students to apply to programs in just about every design-related major, including related areas like architecture, arts management, film, and urban planning.

What is a portfolio, Really?

In general, a portfolio is a collection of one’s best creative work. In my view though, a portfolio is MUCH more. For college planning, it integrates all aspects of your candidacy as evidence of how prepared you are for your personal mission, however you define it. Your portfolio connects the dots of where you’ve been, who you are now, and who you aspire to be. With our specialty in guiding you to develop your personal portfolio, we help you effectively communicate who YOU are to colleges, grad schools or beyond.

Why do I need a portfolio?

In order to assess your potential to be a successful student, art schools expect you to have a portfolio when you apply. In highly selective colleges, it can be the main factor in determining whether you are offered admission. Guiding you as you document and communicate your artistic development, and create and submit your best portfolio is one of the things we do best.

How do I digitize and submit my artwork?

Along with content requirements, colleges are very specific about how they want to see your work. You’ll be asked to present your work in either a printed version or digital format. So what do you do with the five-foot tall sculpture you just finished? No problem: you bring the art; we’ll provide the expert instruction.

I have more questions. Whom do I contact?

Lorraine Serra. She’d be more than happy to answer your questions.

who-we-are     Who We Are

Portfolio College Counseling is a personalized educational consulting service for US and international students who want to advance their education. We nurture and strengthen our students’ academic and artistic development by offering practical information, creative mentorship, and innovative counseling that enables them to develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence to launch themselves successfully in college and beyond.

We specialize in college counseling for the next generation of visual and critical thinkers: artists, designers, architects and other students with talent and keen intellectual curiosity. Founded in 2008 as PortfolioPrep, our goal was simple: to offer high school artists the college guidance that we would have liked at their age. Since then, our expertise, experience and services have helped hundreds of students and expanded beyond art and design disciplines to include comprehensive services for all (i.e., non-art) undergraduate and graduate school admissions, transfer, gap year, and summer programs. We also support other consultants, counselors, art schools and organizations.

Our approach to college counseling encourages students to participate fully in the decision-making process, and emphasizes right fit choices over dependence on rankings and brand names.

Meet Lorraine

Lorraine Serra balances her passion for mentoring young people with an award-winning career as a designer and creative director. She earned a Certificate in College Counseling with Distinction from UCLA, an MA in Graphic Design from Savannah College of Art & Design, and a BS in Visual Arts from Purchase College. She is an Associate member of IECA, and Professional member of NACAC, HECA and NEACAC.

Lorraine founded Chiaro Design, a design firm, in 1983. She taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and lectures, writes articles and presents workshops for college-bound students. She judges student portfolios for organizations including the National Scholastic Art Awards, and is the recipient of a 2011 Puffin Foundation Grant.

Lorraine has offices in Guilford, CT and Port Townsend, WA

IECA          HECA

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get-started-env     Get Started