By Lee Richardson
While 18 of Ryerson’s undergraduate degree programs demand a portfolio as part of the application process, there is no policy at the university level on how to process grades-plus applicants.
“I haven’t seen a policy or guidelines, or anything of that kind to give direction to the various chairs with respect to who they should or should not admit,” said FCAD (Faculty of Communication and Design) dean Gerd Hauck.
This means that entry into some of Ryerson’s most competitive programs that ask for additional application requirements is often based on subjective opinion.
“Some students with slightly lower grades who demonstrate great potential in their non-academic work are admitted, and by their very nature it’s subjective,” said president Sheldon Levy.
Whether applicants are admitted depends on the decision of committees made up of faculty members from specific programs. For example, radio and television arts (RTA) portfolios are handled by the faculty of that program. These committees, usually made up of about six people, are put together to deal with the high number of applicants to high-demand programs like the image arts programs, interior design and architectural science.
“The average group of applicants for FCAD is about 10 to 15 times higher than the number of people that we can take,” said Hauck. “It’s a very, very onerous task.”
“The image arts programs, for example, admits 150 students a year and you’re looking at 10 times that number of applicants.”
Another issue with grades-plus is a possibility that some of the applicants, who have to pay $50 to get their portfolio evaluated, are submitting portfolios that they haven’t made themselves.
“It’s sort of like handing in fraudulent transcripts or cheating on an entrance test, it’s supposed to be a measure of your ability to succeed in the field,” said VP Students Heather Lane Vetere. “If someone else does it for you you’re going to have trouble when you get here because you may not have those qualities or skills.”
Programs are trying to crack down on that possibility by requiring other non-academic requirements on-site. Some now issue tests like sketching and writing exams and require applicants to fill out questionnaires.
“Those are balanced out and the decision is made about application or otherwise,” said architectural science associate chair, Jurij Leshchysyn.
Apart from the rare exception like the architectural science course, most portfolios are never returned to applicants. “It can be difficult to help them understand what they need to improve in order to be considered in the future, because its a subjective decision,” said Levy.
Photo: Tim Alamenciak