What is a Portfolio? Who should submit one?

What is a Portfolio? Who should submit one?

A Portfolio is a collection of your personal work. This could be in the form of fine art, digital art, creative writing pieces, or performing arts such as music compositions, monologues, and dance choreography — the list isn’t exhaustive, but it usually tends to fall under these categories.

All students, at least in India, are encouraged to learn some form of art or music from a young age. At Ivy Central, we often have students who have appeared for the Grade 8 Trinity Exams in Piano or Violin or have completed their ‘Arangetram’ in Bharatnatyam (an Indian classical dance form). These are significant achievements in themselves and can be quite useful (although not super distinctive) for your college application.

Students that typically end up submitting their portfolios are of two kinds:

  1. Those who are required to submit one

  2. Those who are not required to submit one but have the option to

Many students continue their interests in these areas, taking them to a higher level from the time they start learning these. If you seem to have found your vocation in areas like Art, Design, Theatre, and Music and are applying for a major in these fields, you would most definitely be asked to submit a portfolio.

However, if you have pursued any of these passions on the side but to a sufficient degree, it is worthwhile submitting a portfolio, regardless of the major that you are applying for. In fact, this will help diversify your profile.

Tips on what makes a good portfolio:

  1. Obviously, including those works where you have put your best foot forward. Avoid sending in pieces that make you feel like ‘you could have done WAY better.’

  2. If possible, include a range of works. This isn’t mandatory, as you may have mastered acrylic paintings and only submit those. However, universities do appreciate it if you’re able to showcase your thoughts and ideas in different ways.

  3. Clarity is key: If you’re submitting any recordings, please make sure that they are absolutely clear in sound and vision, as well as background.

  4. A portfolio that demonstrates growth and learning is ideally best suited. You may select and name works in an ascending order to do this.

  5. Curating various portfolios specific to each University’s guidelines is very important if you have the bandwidth to do that. However, this is often not always required as the guidelines stay generic.

A word of caution: It is better to get assessed the quality of the work that you will be submitting. Remember that your portfolio is considered part of the initial admission decision. you want to ensure that you submit your best work. There are certainly no second chances in case you feel that you missed out on including an important piece. I, therefore, recommend that you start building your portfolio from Grade 9 or before and keep a digital copy of each of your works at all times.

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