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Creating a College Portfolio

Some of the more selective universities require a portfolio to supplement their application process, especially for students who have homeschooled or attended a non-accredited high school. Additionally, some majors specifically require portfolios detailing samples of work, especially majors in the visual or performing arts. Even if a college portfolio is not required, having one assembled can make the process of completing college or scholarship applications much easier, as the information is already consolidated into a single location.

Create it as you go!

The important thing to remember when assembling a college portfolio is that it is easiest if done concurrently with high school. Every semester, after completing an activity or receiving an award, add the information to the portfolio. This is so much easier than trying to reconstruct your involvements, the work you did, and the awards you received. Create a file or notebook at the beginning of high school to hold any documents or information, and make a habit of adding to the file at the completion of any project you work on. The High School 4 Year Plan planner can also help you organize the information you need for both the portfolio and your college application.

College Portfolio Contents

Think of your college portfolio almost like a resume, or a compilation of your accomplishments and achievements in a single location. The specific contents of the portfolio are up to you and depend upon your intended use of the information.

At the most basic level, your college portfolio should contain the information that would typically be asked for on applications, so you have all the information ready in a single location. This information would include:

  • the name, address, and phone number of your high school
  • test scores (ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, AP, and CLEP)
  • extracurricular activities
  • work experience and internships
  • volunteer work and community service
  • awards, recognitions, or prizes you have received
  • samples of work, projects you completed, or writing examples

Remember to include details on any leadership positions you held. Also include any examples of where you took the initiative or started a project. If creating a file, it would be helpful to keep any letters of recommendation in that file that you receive from any employers, coaches, instructors, or supervisors of the activities you participated in.

When looking at highly selective schools, consider keeping more documentation in your college portfolio to back up your accomplishments, especially if you are homeschooled or attending a non-accredited high school. Samples of documentation would include participation certificates, newspaper articles, and any other material that would substantiate your claims of achievement. Homeschoolers may also want to keep a detailed record of books read and curricula used.

Pay attention to requirement details!

If you are pursuing a degree in a field that requires samples of your work such as art, dance, drama, music, or writing, your college portfolio becomes even more important to the college application process. You should identify as early as possible if any such portfolio is required for your major. Work to understand specifically what kind of samples are looked for and begin working immediately to assemble the needed material. Sometimes recordings will have to be arranged to demonstrate your work, or the school may require samples using a variety of mediums or in various styles. You need to know this early on so that you can give yourself plenty of time to assemble a stellar college portfolio that meets the requirements for the school.

Whatever your situation, having a college portfolio put together can greatly help you in the application process. Having all the information you need consolidated into a single location makes the process of completing applications much simpler. In some instances, having the documentation to back up your claims can help to bolster your academic credibility. The important thing is to get an early start on this project and to work on it concurrently with the rest of your academic and extracurricular pursuits throughout high school. So, get started today!

About Matthew Bullington

Above all else, Matthew Bullington is interested in pursuing the Lord’s glory in every arena of his life. Matthew is a homeschool graduate, and recently married his best friend, Meagan. The two of them reside in Tennessee, from where Matthew operates his business, UniversityReady, helping homeschool and private school students prepare for college. Matthew speaks to groups nation-wide, is the advice writer for the Well-Planned Day high school planners, tutors math at a local homeschool tutorial, and is actively involved in discipleship groups with his church family.

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