Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Perfecting your Portfolio

Hello everyone! Today I wanted to talk to you all about creating an admissions portfolio that will be a useful resource for yourself when it comes to college applications. These are most widely used for art majors (dance, painting, sculpture, graphic design ... etc.), but they may be useful in other programs as well! Here are my tips and suggestions for creating a great portfolio that represents your abilities well.

Depending on the selectivity of the institutions to which you are applying, you can create one physical copy of your portfolio to bring when you visit your colleges or do a portfolio review for final admission. You can create one in a binder with clear sheet protectors, or you can also print and bind a 'professional' copy at a print center like Staples. If you think you are going to want to switch its contents in and out, then a good-quality binder that is easy to edit would be a good choice!

You should include a cover page with all of your contact information, the program you are interested in studying, and a brief explanation of your career goals, short-term and long-term. This should be short so that the counselor or reviewer can read it in less than 30 seconds. This is to help connect your paper application to the contents of your portfolio which represents you as a great candidate.

Here are some suggestions for items, projects, and paperwork to include for different majors.

  • Education - If you did any tutoring assignments, if you went to BOCES for Early Childhood Education, or if you did any educational babysitting projects with students, include those materials in the portfolio. These could be worksheets you created, lesson plans you've written, letters of reference from any employers, or your personal philosophy of education.
  • Cosmetology/Beauty School - If you are interested in pursuing another degree that specializes more in becoming an aesthetician or a salon manager, take photos of the work you have done throughout your technical training. You could include pictures of hair-dos, edgy cuts or colors, nail designs you have created, or make-up looks you have designed. This should showcase your design skills, as well as your ability to innovate in terms of client's wishes.
  • Business - If you have worked on events in High School or for a part-time job, I would include those materials, such as the marketing pieces, any set-up materials, or proposals that you have written. Even if you only did assignments like this in your Business courses or in FBLA or Student Council, they can still help show your aptitude and your 'business mindset.' Even if you helped your mom with her Mary-Kay marketing campaign, include all of that material that you created!
  • Theatre/Dance - A theatre and dance portfolio can be difficult, since your product is your movement and your acting/dancing skill, so I would actually suggest making a digital portfolio, where you compile information like the performances you've had and any accolades or competition prizes you've won throughout the years. Universities will usually have you do an in-person audition, but if you want to create a digital portfolio, I would include some short compilations of your performances throughout your years. For theatre majors, you can include dramatic pieces, comedic pieces, and some musical theatre as well. For a dance major, I would include a short barre routine to show your extensions and general poise, as well as, some solo performances, like pointe work, jazz work, and a lyrical piece. Remember these should be shorter (30-45 seconds) pieces so that the reviewers don't get bored.
  • Art - A university will have specific guidelines for your art portfolio on what to include. They will usually have you bring in paintings or sketches, good quality pictures of your sculpture pieces or your photographs, as well as, printouts of your graphic designs. If you are genuinely interested in studying art, you should have a conversation with the University Art Department and your Admissions Counselor early on so that if you need to create a few pieces, you have time do so!
  • Autobody/Mechanics - While it would be rare, if you are looking to become a mechanic or gain experience and an education in autobody detailing or something more specific, you could also create a portfolio of things you've accomplished thus far. If you've detailed a few cars, add some good pictures; if you've overhauled a car or tractor, include pictures and a short explanation of the overhaul - time it took, engine style, what specifically you did. 
Overall, your portfolio should represent you and your abilities well. Throughout my career in my education major, we were constantly making portfolios and updating all of our materials to use in job interviews and in graduate school interviews. It is something that you can hang onto and pull out at a moment's notice when a job opportunity becomes available! 

If you want a suggestion about creating a portfolio for another program or major, comment below and I will be sure to respond and give you all my recommendations and suggestions! I hope you all have a great week!!

enjoy the chase,

P.S. I will be doing a Q&A session next month for you all to get to know me a little better. If you have a question you want to know about me or about my educational journey, please leave it in the comment, send your question in an e-mail or tweet me  @Chasing_College. :)

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