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News / January 17, 2012

Build a Winning Application Portfolio

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Do Your Research
Each college has different requirements for application portfolios. Some schools want a certain number of drawings, for instance, while others will request that you complete specific assignments. Make sure you’re aware of everything each application portfolio requires.

Be Format-Wise
Take note of the format that each school requests for portfolio submissions. One school might ask for hard copies of a photograph while others might be content with a JPEG burned to a CD.

Get Advance Feedback
Many schools host portfolio-feedback days once or twice a year. Other participate in National Portfolio Day events across North America—check or call your regional art college to find the event nearest you.

Turn Weaknesses into Strengths
Continuing education courses, offered by most art colleges and departments, can help bring any of your weaker skills to a portfolio level. Many of these courses are even taught by existing college instructors.

Request like the Best
If you need reference letters or past transcripts to be submitted with your portfolio, be sure to request them 2 to 3 months in advance of the application deadline.

Take Time to Make Time
Some admissions offices require that portfolios be received by a certain date, where others are happy with a postmark. Get your courier-by dates straight, and stick to them.

Pick up the Phone
When in doubt, call the relevant university admissions office. Workers there are usually happy to answer any portfolio questions not covered on their websites or application forms. Your high school’s guidance office can also be a great source of assistance and advice.


Text originally published in Canadian Art magazine, Winter 2009 print edition