Digital portfolios are required for students applying to special programs, such as fine arts, performing arts, and architecture. But what about liberal arts, business, science, engineering, and such? Yes! It’s absolutely a good idea to have a college application digital portfolio to let admissions counselors know who you are. Digital portfolios contain materials such as papers, projects, artwork, or videos. There are six AP courses that require digital components. The Coalition App has a locker feature that allows students to add artifacts of learning and personal growth from the time they’re high school freshmen. And they can upload video files directly. The problem is the Coalition currently has only about 150 members. That’s compared to 900 Common App schools.  High school freshmen don’t know which colleges they’ll be applying to and whether they will be Coalition members.

Try ZeeMee

The Common App partners with ZeeMee, a free platform that allows students to upload digital portfolios. More and more colleges are asking for digital portfolios. For the colleges that don’t ask for one, it’s a way for students to set themselves apart. Some sample ZeeMee profiles are available. Let’s face it. A student is more than a set of grades and test scores. A student is three-dimensional. And college admissions at selective colleges tend to be “holistic.”  Furthermore, admissions counselors are often young and tech-savvy. And they read thousands of applications. It’s a refreshing change to watch a clever and well-put-together video. However, because they process thousands of applications with transcripts, letters, and essays, they may not look at your portfolio. It’s a worthwhile question to ask in an interview or in an email with your regional representative.   Regardless of what schools ask for a digital portfolio or consider it, it’s a good idea to submit one. It shows that you are willing to put in extra effort. You should begin working on it early on in your high school years. Who knows what colleges will want it in two or three years?

Want a Great Video Example?

A student at the high school I taught at created a clever and professional-looking video that captured one second of every day over the course of a year of her life. (She posted it on YouTube when she was 18.) It wasn’t for admissions purposes, but it could have been. It’s attention-grabbing. It showed her as a multidimensional and clearly impressive individual. This get-to-know-you video could be linked to college applications, scholarship applications, internship applications, and even job applications. There are other “one-second” videos on YouTube, but this one is the best I’ve seen. My advice is to learn from your favorite YouTubers. The “one-minute-a-day” video is not a one-minute video. The one that’s linked above is a seven-minute video. Some colleges are asking for one-minute videos in place of 450-word essays. Or two-minute videos. (It’s very important to follow their parameters.) One thing you can do is narrate an essay response to a prompt. Regardless of the length of the video, the first seven seconds are vital, according to US News & World Report.  Most admission officers will formulate a strong opinion of the applicant in those seven seconds. So make a good first impression. The good news is that, unlike an interview, you get as many takes as you want. In the Common App, your link can go along with your essay or you can put it in the “Additional Information” section. Maybe it won’t get looked at, but many college admissions counselors use that section to distinguish students from each other. Don’t overlook that section. But be careful. In a survey of college admissions counselors, one-third said they saw something troubling in a digital portfolio. Don’t have partying in the video (obviously). No obscene gestures or inappropriate language. Avoid anything political. The same is true, by the way, of all your social media accounts. College admissions counselors will look at the social media accounts of students who are “borderline admits.” You’ve put a lot of time into your high school success. Put some time into a digital portfolio.