Arts supplements are optional portfolios that schools allow students to submit in addition to their regular academic application. It’s a great chance to display and share your interest in and contribution to your creative medium of choice, and we encourage students to submit one if appropriate. Your interest in the field should be notable and you should have the time commitment and talent to show for it. So, you’ve reviewed if the arts portfolio is for you, and you’ve determined it is. Now, how do you do it?
The vast majority of schools require that you submit your arts portfolio via the website Slideroom. So, the first thing to do is make an account. You can’t do so through their website, but rather directly through the college’s website to which you’re applying. You should go to their Slideroom page on their website and click through to sign up. Your login should be the same for all of your other Slideroom accounts (you don’t need new login info for every school) but you have to start somewhere.
The Slideroom system itself is pretty self-explanatory. When you log in, you’ll have to select your program to which you’re submitting. Make sure that you select Undergraduate and then the specific arts category that you’re contributing your portfolio to. Then, you’ll begin your application. There is room for you to submit each component of your application. Make sure that you review your school’s particular supplement requirements. Not all arts supplements are built the same, just as not all writing supplements are built the same. You can’t just pull a copy, paste, and swap out the header.
If you’re required to submit a recommendation along with your supplement, you’ll want to use the References feature similar to the Recommender feature in your Common Application. You enter in your recommender’s name and email, and the Slideroom system will send them an emailing enabling them to upload their recommendation.
In order to compile your portfolio, you will be using the Media button. If you hit “+Add Media” the page will show up and enable you to upload from a variety of sources, including your computer and Dropbox, as well as copy in a link to a URL. Each section specifies the size and format of each component, so make sure that your uploads fit these requirements.
When you are completing your Common App, you’ll find that when you’re completing an application it will ask you if you’re planning to submit an optional arts portfolio. Click yes, and it will adjust to reflect that in your submission and give you a link to their portfolio system:
Of course, some colleges have to be unique and throw you off instead of remaining consistent (*ahem* Coalition app *ahem*). Princeton and University of Pennsylvania, for example, have their own internal submission systems. You can access Penn’s through their portal 48 hours after you submit your Common App. A good reason to get your applications in ahead of time, given the fact that submission deadlines for the arts supplements are close to if not the same as the normal submission deadlines. Make sure that you check the specifics on your school. Not all schools have the same submission deadlines for arts supplements.
As we said above, make sure that your application components are properly formatted. Every school has their own preferences. There is no worse scenario than putting the time and effort into something only to have it discarded based on a technicality (namely, that you didn’t read). This is what Princeton details, which we think is a good guideline, but always review your particular college’s supplement section to triple check:
- You may upload a website url.
- Acceptable file formats: .doc, .docx, .txt, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx. (File size of these formats must be less than 10mb each.)
- Acceptable media formats: .midi, .mid, .mov, .mpg, .mps, .wav. (Video files must be less than 120mb each. Audio files must be less than 60mb each.)
- Acceptable image formats: .jpg, .gif. (Image files must be less than 10mb each.)
Here is a complete list of colleges that do use Slideroom. If a college doesn’t use Slideroom, then they probably have their own internal submission system. There isn’t really a mainstream software alternative.
Some common questions:
Can you submit multiple arts portfolios?
- Technically, yes. But not in the same category. And we strongly encourage you to choose just one category or medium in which to display your talents.
What if my video size is just too long, plain and simple?
- Upload it to a content sharing website, like YouTube, and share the unique link instead of sending them the actual file.
Eureka! I’ll submit a video introduction instead of a creative resume. That will make me stand out, right?
- Eh. As we’ve said before, the most successful college applicants follow instructions. While we applaud your creativity and desire to push boundaries, don’t do it here. Complete the resume. If you want to submit a video intro IN ADDITION TO your resume, then go for it. But keep it short and sweet.
Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns about this process. It’s tricky! We’re happy to offer our artistic or academic/professional opinion on your portfolio, or even help you put it together. Just ask!