Though a relatively new component to the college application, many schools adopt this short supplemental to further showcase students, their communities, and their personalities. If your college application provides a video portfolio option, utilizing it can offer a holistic glimpse into what kind of student appears on campus. Presently, some schools create a prompt for students to make a video about and others leave it up to the student. Make sure to check your application details to see which applies to you.
The integration of vlog-style content into our lives means you likely follow YouTube vloggers or watch countless Instagram stories reels and on TikTok. Even if you’re not familiar with video editing and production, creatively, you know where to start. Below, you’ll find some helpful tips to help you create a high-quality video portfolio that doesn’t require you to be a skilled blogger or content creator. Remember, what matters most is content, creativity, and authenticity. You’re the star of this show!
Unless you’re applying to an art school application or you voice an interest in majoring in film studies, admissions committees aren’t looking for the highest quality video editing. There’s no need to have professional equipment or fancy software to make a high-quality video portfolio. Anything production-related is not a make-or-break element of the application. Do, however, get creative with what kind of content you showcase and how for the committee. For example, don’t sit in front of the camera and read your essay, but also don’t feel compelled to video a trip to Hawaii. Make your everyday life come to life for the committees. One way to do this is to take people alongside what makes you unique—your passions, hobbies, community, humor—each element creates a powerful video without any production bells and whistles.
Though not everyone is an extrovert, try to showcase you at your most authentic. Make sure that you appear enthusiastic and inviting on camera—as you would if you’re meeting someone for the first time in person. Remember, this is the admissions committee’s first impression of you, so it’s best to make sure that it adds value to your application. However, don’t overindulge or do something atypical to highlight accomplishments. Though those things must shine through, make sure it makes sense within the context of your video. Don’t list awards for the sake of listing them. For example, did you win a mock trial competition? Take us into a club meeting to showcase the team and explain the work you’ve done. Better yet, get your friends and people in your orbit involved. Though the video is about you, who we surround ourselves with speaks to our personhood. Elevate those around you as part of your portfolio to creatively showcase who you are.
If the video recommends a specific time allotment, you must stick to these guidelines. Many colleges limit videos to one to two minutes. More importantly, if there’s a prompt, be sure that you clearly address it at the onset of the video and do so throughout. Though it’s best not to script your dialogue, be intentional about how you are incorporating your accomplishments, your community members, activities, and the reasons why you’re the perfect fit for the school you’re applying. Storyboarding and creating a test run of a video can help you determine how it comes together. Finally, for more experienced vloggers, when collecting footage, it’s better to have more than you need. You can always cut down, but you can’t necessarily create what’s not there. Carry a phone or camera with you for a week and see what kind of spontaneous footage you can get.
In terms of carrying a camera with you, this is a beneficial step that provides admissions committees with an authentic insight into your life. If you’re on a sports team, include footage of that. If you regularly attend poetry slams, bring us along on those adventures. If you’re a gamer, change up the perspective of the video and show us what you see while playing! Showing rather than telling committees your passions provides insight into expressing creativity. Take full advantage of the medium!
To better understand how to create an impactful video portfolio, learn from your peers. Many students post their video portfolios on YouTube. Take time to learn from students before you who had success. At the onset of your portfolio, study other submissions and note what you like and dislike about each. Ultimately, this will help organize and improve your submission.