Certain college programs to which you apply will require, or else strongly encourage, a portfolio as part of your application. The portfolio serves as an in-depth look at your talents and dedication to your chosen field. Several programs may require a portfolio, mostly within the arts; your portfolio will include work such as drawings, paintings, photography and graphic art, as well as musical compositions, writing, and performance art, including vocals, musical and theatrical.
Apply to your chosen schools. Any school, even those with art, theater and writing programs, will require you to submit a standard application. Some schools will want a portfolio with the general application, while others will ask for the portfolio at a later date. Either way, pay close attention to the school's guidelines and deadlines.
Review the portfolio requirements. This is especially important if you are applying to multiple schools, as the requirements will likely be different for each program. For example, if you are applying to several creative writing programs, some schools will ask for different word requirements, while others may want you to answer a specific question that differs from other schools.
Choose a variety of samples. Admissions counselors are looking for students who are both talented and multidimensional. Your portfolio should reflect exactly this. Syracuse's musical theater department requires prospective students to audition using several prepared pieces in acting, voice and dance. In this case, you would play to your strengths but try to vary between comedy and drama, voice ranges and types of dance. At Purchase College's creative writing program, the portfolio should contain two or three short fictional stories or eight to ten poems. Make these pieces different from one another, again varying between comedy and drama or other moods.
Present and submit your portfolio. The layout of your portfolio is important and a reflection of your professionalism. If you are submitting hard copies of your work, make sure everything is in order as laid out in the requirements, the paper quality is high, and any drawings are free of blemishes and smudges. Any photographs of work should be high resolution, and electronic submissions should be compatible with any computer. This is especially important for acting and musical audition recordings.
Ask an objective third party, such as a trusted teacher or mentor, for help in choosing your best work.