Applying to College The Application

What is a Portfolio and How Does it Fit with my College Application?

Written by CB Experts

Whether a portfolio is required of you becuase you are applying to a performing arts porgram in college or because it is supplementary material you are submitting with your college application,  your portfolio gives a sampling of your talent and the type of work you take an interest in doing.

What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of accomplishments and work in an area of talent/interest you have pursued. The collection might include

  • art work: drawing, painting, photography, graphic art;
  • musical composition: scores, song lyrics, arrangements;
  • writing: novels, screen plays, poetry, history, news articles, scientific research, both published and unpublished;
  • performance: vocals – choral, solo, scat; musical – bands, orchestras, paid gigs, solos; and theatrical – theater, comedy, storytelling


A portfolio demonstrates your strengths and growth as an artist or performer. The portfolio also goes beyond a transcript, recommendation, test score, even an essay to show what you are doing and to attest to the commitment you have to your area of interest.

Why Would I Use a Portfolio in my College Application?

If you are applying to an art school, most often the college you apply to will require you to submit a portfolio of your work and will provide you instructions for how to do so.

Many college applications allow a space for “Additional Information.” You could attach a portfolio in this case to show other dimensions of you as an applicant or to show talents you have and might pursue in college as a major or even a minor.

In fact, it might be a good idea to include a portfolio as a supplement to your application–period. A portfolio reveals you in an interesting and different way, setting you apart. If you have not been heavily involved in school and community activities, it may not be because you have few interests or lack motivation, but that you have unusual interests or different priorities. A portfolio can demonstrate your time commitment to a talent and show your passion for learning about, doing, and improving that talent whether it is a talent for singing, acting, painting, playing an instrument, or speaking and writing.

Information provided by Kal Elmore, high school Art Department Head

About the author

CB Experts

Content created by retired College Admissions consultants.