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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

How to make a portfolio? Combining best pieces of work is not the right way to go about it

“Putting up a compilation of some of their best finished-products is one of the most common error students commit while creating a portfolio,” said R Miller, Kingston University.

By: Education Desk | New Delhi |
June 17, 2019 5:48:14 pm
portfolio, portfolio admissions, college admission, create portfolio, how to create portfolio, study abroad, US eligibility, UK top university admission, US college admission US admission process, UK admission process, Kingston University, Darden School of Business, education news A portfolio is among the basic eligibility criteria for admissions abroad. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh/ representational image)

The portfolio is increasingly becoming one of the basic eligibility criteria for admission to courses related to arts and creative fields of studies, especially in foreign universities. While the trend has picked up in the country too with some of the leading institutes such as National School of Drama (NSD) including a portfolio as a part of its admission process, Indian students are still found looking for ideas to create a portfolio that would cut-through the thousands of entries to get noticed for the desired seat.

R Miller, an academician at Kingston University in a conversation with, said that a statement of purpose and a portfolio are the most important pieces of documents that a recruiter (college authorities) see while enrolling a student. He added that students from across the globe commit mistakes in creating portfolios. One of the most common error being, considering that portfolio is a compilation of the best of their work.

“A portfolio is no more a traditional black folder constituting some work samples. Even an Instagram or Youtube feed can act as a portfolio. It is just the evidence of creativity,” said Miller during his visit to India. “I have met many Indian students they have some of the most fantastic work, the most common advice I have been giving students here is to add context to their work,” he adds.

“Putting up a compilation of some of their best finished-products is one of the most common error students commit while creating a portfolio,” Miller told

He said that an academician needs to understand students’ thought process and ideation behind the artwork. Hence, compiling only the final workpieces is not the right way to go about a portfolio. “It is equally important to add sketchbooks, drawing, drafts etc to demonstrate the entire process,” he said.

Arts is not the only department where portfolios are accepted but in mainstream courses such as MBA, portfolio is a prerequisite. Director India Initiatives, Darden School of Business, The University of Virginia, US, Sudershan Tirumala, believes that sending a sellable story over a real one is a mistake. “The biggest mistake an applicant can make is to second guess the Admissions Committee and try to weave a story that the candidate thinks will sell. In doing so, they lose out on the genuineness of their story, and their individuality. Whether the candidate realises it or not, that inauthenticity comes through in the application as well as in the interview,” said Tirumala.

The solution according to Tirumala is introspection. “Applicants take the effort to introspect, understand who they are, what they want to accomplish, why the course they are applying for is the next best step, and what characteristics they bring to the table. This introspection will make the application impactful. The passion with which they present themselves will see them through,” the director said.

A good application, according to Tirumala, is one that gives a 360-degree view of one’s candidacy. “What are your goals? What have you accomplished so far? How are you the best candidate to be admitted? Why are you choosing the institute you have applied for? What extracurricular activities have you taken up that make you a well-rounded applicant? How has your career progression shaped up? What do your recommenders say about you? How have you performed academically in college? Are your test scores competitive? These are all the questions that get evaluated one way or another when reviewing an application,” he said.

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