Most of you reading this are either Juniors or Seniors, many of whom already know what they want to do after you walk out these doors for the last time. There’s a vast amount of responsibility and self promotion involved in entering into the design and communications field. Most schools require a portfolio of your work. Most will require traditional essays, transcripts, lists of accolades, etc., The portfolio component, however, can be quite different depending on the institution.
How do you chose what work to include in the portfolio? What types of work should you showcase? What if you’re lacking experience in certain areas? How will you compare to other applicants? What can you do to make yourself standout?
These are just some of the questions running through must of the minds of applicants entering into the design field. It can be a stressful time full of uncertainty and self-doubt, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometime it pays to be a little more proactive on your end before the application process begins. It never hurts to contact a university to touch base and inquire about there acceptance procedures for their particular programs of study. Find out if they require a portfolio and if so, what do they like to see? Will they accept portfolio reviews prior to the application submission? Do they do one on one meetings to review? These are just some of the questions that could provide valuable feedback for you as an applicant.
For this activity, I would like you to choose 5 schools anywhere in the country (you may focus on PA schools if you wish). Starting at their website, and more specifically, the design department website), find what information you can regarding portfolio requirements. Investigate to see if you can find the answer to these questions:
- Do they require a portfolio?
- How long must it be?
- What type of work should be included?
- Should it be electronic or in hard copy?
- What type of skills should the portfolio emphasize?
Additionally, I would like you to email the department head (should be in the faculty directory on the website), and introduce yourself. Ask them if they would be kind enough to help you in your research for a school activity. Ask them any of the questions from above that you couldn’t find the answers to, plus:
- What do you look for in applicants portfolios?
- What qualities set certain candidates apart from others?
- Do you offer portfolio reviews prior to the application process?
- What’s the single more important piece of advice you could give an applicant considering your program of study?
At the conclusion of this activity, create a blog post titled, “College Portfolio Research.” Document your findings in 2-3 paragraphs. What did you learn? Was there anything that surprised you? Do you feel as though you are aptly prepared to enter into post-secondary programs? What improvements to your own work could you make?