Whether you’re involved in school clubs, sports, or the arts, it is essential to showcase your niche to universities, and what better way to do this than building a portfolio that stands out? This article will help you create a solid portfolio for your university applications.
What is a College Student Portfolio?
- Writing: novels, poetry, screenplays, articles, scientific research (published or unpublished)
- Performance art: musicals, bands, orchestra, solo acts, paid gigs, theater, comedy, storytelling
- Artwork: drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, etc
- Musical compositions: song lyrics, scores, etc
- Sports: football, tennis, badminton, soccer, etc
- Volunteer work
A portfolio can be compiled as a short-term project or spans over the school year(s). Creating your portfolio helps you highlight your strengths and the growth you’ve experienced in your respected area of interest.
It allows colleges to get to know you past a transcript, test score, recommendation, college interview, or even an essay. That helps them get to know who you really are and the level of commitment towards what you are passionate about.
A portfolio gives way for you to be creative, stand out in your own way, and reflect on your learning curve.
What Should a College Portfolio Include?
As each college portfolio is unique to the student themselves, the pieces of a significant portfolio vary by grade and subject. However, the underlying concept is to portray a detailed and authentic picture of a student’s abilities and skills.
Things we recommend you to include are as follows:
- A letter or introduction for the reader that outlines each portfolio item
- A list of term definitions that are helpful to the reader to navigate through your portfolio
- Graphics- charts, concept diagrams, timelines, photographs that include essential information such as test scores
- Quotations or book excerpts that resonate with the student
- Photographs of students working- in labs, volunteer work, etc
- Reading logs
- Video recording of performances or readings ( in the case of ePortfolios)
- A sample piece of writing that paints a few fundamental writing techniques
- Sample essays of various types- narrative, descriptive with techniques (for instance, cause and effect, compare and contrast…etc.) included.
- Technical writing-process analysis essay featuring student drawn diagrams
- Creative writing samples- short stories, poems, songs, and scripts
- Pieces of artwork and art competitions
- Sports medals or tournament participation and wins
- Student body positions and participation in school organizing or administrating events
How to Build a College Portfolio?
There are many college portfolio examples divided into sections with tabs. You can even consider putting essential documents such as transcripts and test scores into sheet protectors.
The list mentioned above in the previous section might be overwhelming for you. You might be wondering: how to create a portfolio for college admissions? Fortunately, there are some primary sections included in every well-rounded college portfolio:
This portfolio section usually includes a cover page with a student’s contact information followed by their high school’s details, i.e., address, phone number, email, etc. After adding this information, you can insert your high school transcript.
If you are a homeschooled student, this section will be different. Keep it short and simple! You can provide basic knowledge about your homeschool curriculum or the approach you used.
This section conveys information about you and your high school that is very focused and explicit, so keep any details shared here to the point and easily accessible.
Following your transcript, you should arrange each test score taken by you in an orderly and chronological order, i.e., according to the dates taken by you. Test scores may include the ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, AP, CLEP, or PSAT.
You will most likely not take all these tests, so don’t stress! Most students only take the ACT or the SAT, so just a single set of test scores is adequate for this section.
This section is optional. However, providing a list of well-renowned books, you have read during middle school and\or high school will only enhance your portfolio further. You should include the book’s title, author, and the year the book was read.
You can even include a few short paragraphs stating your opinion about the top ten books on the list-how they have impacted you and what, if at all, you have learned from them.
College admission boards are interested in seeing your academic and personal progress throughout high school. For this reason, you should include some writing samples from freshman to senior year.
This is where you incorporate written reports for history, science, literature, etc. Make sure you do not go overboard! Just make it simple. One or two samples from each year should suffice and allow the reader to not be overwhelmed.
Creating a project page is essential. Whether a drama play or a science project, a picture is worth a thousand words. Nowadays, there are various beneficial tools online that you can use to align your project pictures and ideas into a catchy project page.
Along with this, you should include details about the date of the project, how it works, learning objectives, and what you experienced.
This section can list all the rewards and honor titles you have received throughout high school. This can include being valedictorian or winning some sort of competitive competition.
You should include the award title and detail what the award entails, including its process to achieve the praise or recognition. If applicable, include letters of recommendation as well.
College admissions want to see well-rounded students, not only as students but also as individuals. Therefore, a student portfolio should include activities where a student’s talents, leadership, and skills stand out.
Whether you are interested in drama, dance, art, music, sports, or other activities, you should introduce a paragraph on each. State your struggles and growth in the process of dedicating yourself to this activity. It’s also recommended to include photographs and posters
If you have worked during high school, done an internship, or completed apprentice work in a specialized field, this next section is where you should present it. You should dedicate this page with information about the company, the duration of your time here, your job responsibilities, promotions or accommodations, skills learned, etc.
Volunteer work is a great way to shine a light on your character and what matters to you. Community work helps personalize your portfolio. It is advised to add pictures and write-ups of personal experiences and feelings.
In addition to these, here are some general tips for creating a structured portfolio:
- Provide enough information but remember not to cram everything in as it is messy, and college admission readers will skip over it. Make your portfolio efficient and exciting.
- Collect all the documents that you think portray your personality and skills the most, and sort them according to the abovementioned order.
- Not all the sections might apply to you, so don’t worry, and just enhance the areas you think you are interested in.
Examples of College Portfolio
In this segment of the article, we will introduce various kinds of student portfolio examples that stand out and can help you get a better visual picture for when you start your own portfolio
College Art Portfolio Examples
Creativity takes courage. Here are some college student portfolio examples of art students that might help you if you have followed a more arts and crafts centric path during your school year:
“Creating an art school portfolio certainly was not easy; it required significant dedication and planning. Everything had to be carefully considered, from the materials I used to see how the artworks interacted.
I wanted to make sure that the people viewing my art school portfolio had a good grasp on my skill and familiarity with all mediums, as well as my ability to think conceptually.”
“Preparing my art school portfolio was really stressful. Mostly because I didn’t realize what an art school portfolio really was.
Thankfully, I had high school art teachers who really helped me with this process. They helped me go through my best pieces and explained why some details worked better than others. One of the more unique aspects of my art school portfolio was a short 15-second animation I made while taking a pre-college class in animation. I only had 2 weeks to make it, but I think it was one of the highlights of my art school portfolio. “
Interior Design Portfolio Examples
Be it a digital portfolio or a hard copy portfolio that you will use to present your interior design work. You must select the best samples that stand out and truly represent your style.
Make mood boards for imaginary clients like a studio apartment in a large city, a living room for an architect, a fancy cafe, etc. Create rooms and spaces for whoever you can think of or want to work for, and customize them according to their needs.
What you envision spaces to be like speaks out about your creativity, and a well-designed website shows off your design skills as much as the portfolio images you display on it. Here is an example of a portfolio:
You can find more examples and guidance on these sites:
- Interior Design Student Portfolio Examples
- How to create a great interior design portfolio
Architecture Portfolio Examples
While developing architecture school admission portfolios, you have to ensure that what you showcase is the best possible book. For this, you need to consistently reevaluate your work by considering the following factors:
“Example of portfolio spread, by Sean Ostro, a former ASR student. Sean applied to and was accepted by several top M.Arch. programs, including Yale, Cornell, Upenn, and UC Berkeley. He chose to attend UC Berkeley’s school of environmental design, which offered him a full fellowship and teaching assistantship.”
“Example of portfolio spread, by Emily McGowan, a former ASR student. Emily applied to and was accepted by Columbia GSAPP, Cornell, Upenn, UC Berkeley, and Clemson School of Architecture. She decided to choose to attend Clemson School of Architecture’s dual degree program in Architecture and Healthcare Administration, which offered her a full fellowship, as well as a generous stipend and teaching assistantship. Since completing her studies at Clemson, Emily has worked in the healthcare architecture division of HOK. She is currently considered one of HOK’s rising stars in healthcare architecture.”
You can find more examples on these sites:
- Portfolio Example: 1 — Architecture Next
- Guide to Architecture School Portfolio Design: How to create the best portfolio for your application to top architecture colleges and universities
Fashion Design Portfolio Examples
You can find fashion portfolio templates online created for budding fashion designers that help you layout your designs in a quick, professional way.
You can utilize the following links:
- Fashion Portfolio Template
- Fashion Design Portfolio Examples For College
Animation College Portfolio Examples
Animation is all about storytelling, and animation portfolios are no different. While you don’t need to include a proper story, good animation and motion graphics are a good way to show a clear and compelling idea.
For this reason, you should include your final pieces in the portfolio. You can show off your storyboards, characters, designs style frames, etc. Following are some example websites you can check out for ideas:
Wrapping Things Up: The Best List of College Portfolio Examples
A portfolio can be the most accurate representation you provide to college admissions to get to know who you indeed are. It can be months of organized work, but it’s worth it as it might be precisely what you need to get into your desired colleges.
You can create different kinds of portfolios that cater to your specific skills. This article provides various student portfolio examples for you to sift through and help you find exactly the type you are looking for.
Hence, make sure you highlight your skills, experience, and personal touches that will make you shine through. While looking at examples from other students always helps, make sure your own touch and flare are clearly highlighted throughout the portfolio.