University Tips Blog
Image of tools used in creative portfolios
A headshot image of the author, Jasminne Gwalter

by Jasminne Gwalter

Student Recruitment and Enquiries Operations Coordinator at Arts University Plymouth

posted on 16 Mar '20

How schools and colleges can support students when preparing creative profiles for university interviews

Preparing for a face-to-face interview can be daunting for a student, not to mention the added pressure of preparing the perfect compilation of work.

Traditionally, creative portfolios or showreels assembled for a university interview, are viewed as a collective of a students’ most prized pieces from their final two years in secondary education, whether this be from a further education provider or a school sixth form.

Studying a creative undergraduate degree is all about trial and error, celebrating, learning from and reflecting on all successes and mistakes. My advice is that these processes can be demonstrated in portfolios, sketchbooks, showreels or digital collections of student work. These can be in the form of written blogs, social media pages, drawings, film, research and critical thinking, poetry and photographic work, just to name a few. It provides evidence of creative thinking and problem solving that sets creative graduates apart in the workplace.

Students should consider the world around them and how this inspires their work and decision making - and be able to discuss this in a clear and concise manner. Showing a variety of work helps to initiate conversations at interview and prompts further thoughts and reflections.

Many universities will offer bespoke sessions for your students in the form of workshops to help prepare them for interviews and producing a portfolio. I would encourage you to take advantage of this! We are here to work alongside you, and it is a great opportunity to tick off some of the Gatsby benchmarks at the same time.

Five top tips to pass to students preparing a portfolio and for an interview

1. Don’t be afraid to bring a sketchbook to show work in progress, the journey and inspirations.
2. We know it can be expensive to travel - ask universities if there’s any support available or if interviews are offered online.
3. Consider having a digital platform that showcases work - this can be useful for casual conversations at open days, or online interviews.
4. Find out if your university choices have any specific guidance for showreels or portfolios that must be followed – for example on length, number of pieces, format etc.
5. Be prepared to talk critically about the work - what went wrong, and what would you change? We don’t expect perfection, but we do want students to be able to think reflectively and develop their practice.

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