Frequently Asked Questions

What’s an independent college counselor?

An independent college counselor, also referred to as an educational consultant (or IEC), is a professional trained in and dedicated to advising college-bound students. They provide one-on-one advisement throughout the entire process of transitioning to college. These plans are tailored to your individual needs, in a timely manner and with minimum stress.

Lorraine Serra is a member in good standing of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). She adheres to strict ethical guidelines for the college counseling profession.

Is Portfolio College Counseling a service just for art students?

Although we began by supporting student artists with their college planning, we’ve grown to be much more. Portfolio College Counseling helps students across disciplines focus on their goals and hone the skills needed to reach them. In fact, many of our clients are non-art students who go on to major in humanities, business, STEAM, and other professional fields. Our reputation as an international resource for college art education and careers continues to grow!


The college timeline is unique to you! However, this is the timeline we recommend for the best results. For traditional first-year college applicants it is best to begin working with Portfolio College Counseling early in your junior year. If you are applying to graduate school programs you should reach out early in your junior year of college. This allows us to build a strategic plan that includes in-depth discussions about your interests, abilities, and objectives. It also gives you time to develop the artwork necessary for an outstanding portfolio.

You will be given information and resources during our meetings that will help you sort through the maze of options and choose the right art and design path for you. An estimated 20-50% of students entering college are undecided about their educational paths or future careers. So, don’t worry, we’ll steer you in the right direction.

What classes should I take now?

Planning your schedule ahead of time puts you in control. In addition, you’ll have less stress later in the college application process. Together we will review your transcript—ensuring all graduation requirements are covered—and position you to succeed. Demonstrating to admission committees challenging classes, including AP and Honors classes, will highlight your commitment to academics and art.

Can you help me explore/understand majors/careers in art?

In the world of art and design there are abundant course of study and career (hundreds, actually) beyond the traditional disciplines of drawing, painting or sculpture. Year after year, these programs are evolving and growing. The list below is just a small sample of art and design options that emphasize building concrete creative skills as well as transferable job market training.

  • Graphic Design
  • Interactive Design
  • Transportation Design
  • Visual Effects Design
  • Interdisciplinary Studies

Portfolio College Counseling, therefore, prepares students to apply into a wide range of art and design related fields.

What is a portfolio, really?

A portfolio is a collection of your best art and design work. However, at Portfolio College Counseling we think a portfolio is MUCH more. Your portfolio integrates all aspects of your candidacy into tangible evidence of how you prepared for your personal academic mission. Your portfolio connects the dots of where you’ve been, who you are now, and who you aspire to be. In other words, it shows your journey.

To assess your potential to be a successful student, art and design programs expect you to have a portfolio upon application. In highly selective BFA or MFA programs, it can be the main factor in admission decisions.

Your portfolio serves as a guide that documents and communicates your artistic development. Working with you to build your best portfolio is one of the things we do best. In conclusion, we will help you effectively communicate who YOU are to colleges, grad schools or beyond.

I have more questions. Whom do I contact?

Contact us here. We would be happy to answer your questions. We’re here to help.

Let's Connect

Finding the right college counselor is the key step in a successful college planning process. To help decide whether our services are the best path forward for students, we offer a 20-minute, complimentary phone meeting to introduce ourselves, get to know you and explain our process. Afterward, we’ll prepare a written proposal to outline our plan for working with you, that includes a suggested sequence and associated fees. Each plan for counseling is customized, based on the student’s abilities, skills and educational objectives.