Do art schools expect less from high school students applying for undergrad compared to what they expect from students who are older/already have their undergrad?
I know every art school's theme for art portfolios is "your best work possible" but do they set the bar a bit lower for the kids fresh from high school? An art teacher once told me that art schools' don't only look for quality but for potential, however my guidance counselor told me "Harvard doesn't take people and make them smart. Harvard takes smart people and makes them smarter," which is irrelevant since this is specifically art, but still...
Basically, I'm a little afraid that my art will not reach the level of quality that schools are looking for by the time it's time for me to start putting a portfolio together...however, I don't even know what the "level of quality" is exactly. Naturally what I should do is work hard and practice as normal but it would help a lot if the roads ahead were much clearer. I'm a worrisome person by nature so it's a little nerve-wrecking since I have this muddled idea that art schools are only accepting top-notch artists from Laguardia High School or some other art based high school. (I live in New York City which has a lot of great artsy high schools, and colleges, which I don't attend..)
See if you can find a portfolio day near you. Portfolio day is when a shit load of art schools gather in one place and review portfolios all day. You just run around and get checked out by whoever you want. It is extremely helpful. If that isn't an option try running your potential pieces past some art teachers, or posting the whole collection on here.
I don't think you need to worry very much. Being a top notch artist from art based high schools can help, especially with getting financial aid, but it is totally not necessary. The portfolio I applied with straight from highschool was garbage and I got in fine (applied to MCAD in mineapolis, but didn't go because of a lack of cash money). Make sure that your essay is very very good, that is as important as the portfolio. Telling them what art means to you and showing that you can articulate yourself will definitely help show your potential if your work is not "top notch"
Applying to school and getting together a portfolio can be extremely stressful and also terrifying. You are not alone. I am currently in the process of reapplying to MCAD and just had a little break down of "oh my god my art is not good enough" last week. The only thing to do is try your best not to worry about it, and let it motivate you instead of cripple you. BEST OF LUCK!!