The Power of the Portfolio
Aspiring scholars tend to focus all their energy on achieving stellar academic results and overlook the fact that portfolios have become a must-have. The cold, hard truth is that outstanding academic credentials, while still necessary, are not sufficient to help you stand out when it comes to your scholarship applications. And when you are applying alongside others who have equivalent or perhaps even better results, an impressive portfolio can be the key to setting you apart from other scholarship applicants.
Here’s how you can lay down the foundation for your scholarship application and create a powerful portfolio, and why it can truly pay off for you in your scholarship application process.
Get Involved in Activities
The first method to beef up your portfolio is simple – get involved in various school activities. Involvement can come in the form of joining CCAs, interest groups and competitions, or volunteering at school functions like sports day and carnivals. If nothing interests you, start a CCA with friends who share similar interests, or organise a Community Involvement Project (CIP) for a cause that you are passionate about.
These initiatives will serve to showcase your leadership and organisational skills. Furthermore, spending more time on these activities does not mean that you have to sacrifice precious time with your friends and family. On the contrary, working on community projects together allows you to spend more time with them in a meaningful manner.
Apart from school-related activities, you can even include external activities in your portfolio. For example, you may include your participation in voluntary work, workshops and courses, or your engagement in part-time jobs outside of school. You may even choose to indicate that you represented your community centre in sports activities or even your stint as a cell group leader in church – anything that displays your talent, personality and interest.
Discover how a well-constructed personal portfolio can be invaluable for marketing yourself to a scholarship provider (and potentially your future employer).Showcase your Strengths
Referrals from teachers are a major boost to your scholarship applications. Apart from tapping on your teachers, you can also get someone outside of school – your supervisor from work, or fellow volunteer leader – who oversees your external activities to write a recommendation letter in your favour.
However, there is a limit to the number of testimonials you should include in your portfolio, so pick someone who knows you well, and whom you know well. They should ideally have spent plenty of time around you and witnessed your contributions and personal development when you engaged in these activities.
In addition, make the effort to ensure that the activities included in your portfolio clearly illustrate your strengths. For instance, highlight how taking music lessons demonstrates your ability to commit to an activity for a sustained period of time. Furthermore, emphasise how you managed to hone your time-management skills while balancing both your studies and your external commitments.
At the end of the day, your portfolio can become quite a large collection of materials and you might find your file bursting along the edges. It pays to be concise and economical, including only the projects and experiences that best demonstrate your skills and abilities.
Furthermore, your sharp and concise points may prompt further questions from your interviewer, thereby allowing you to expand on your experiences in person. As you explain in greater detail how each experience has contributed to your development as a person, don’t forget to mention how the insights gained from each experience have moulded you into someone deserving of the scholarship.