Create the Perfect Graphic Design Portfolio for College – 25 Tips


Create the Perfect Graphic Design Portfolio for College – 25 Tips  

Top-caliber design colleges only select a fraction of students from all the applications received, and a good portfolio exponentially increases selection chances. It is, therefore, crucial to come up with a collection of relevant and appealing design works that showcase potential to maximize the probability of being chosen. Though there is no winning magic formula, the 25 tips below can help solidify your chances of getting a design college slot.

Research and record portfolio requirements

Colleges have specifics which must be adhered to or else a portfolio gets automatically disqualified. Take time to research and jot down the particulars so as to reduce the risk of missing out on important details.

Portfolio size

Often, qualification requirements stipulate maximum portfolio size. If this is not so, be careful to optimize the size of your presentation to between 20-30 entries which is considered average.

Portfolio flexibility

Do some research to find out how flexible and adventurous you are allowed to be regarding including sketches, works in progress, non-client projects, etc.

Labelling requirements

Label all portfolio pages accordingly using appropriate titles. Remember to factor in the labeling regulations set by the college.

Factor in the submission method

Different methods call for different modes of portfolio development. Consider whether a digital copy is required, or a collection of original works.

The introduction

The introduction should not be long – brief and concise is the way to go. Keep in mind that the introduction you develop is essentially the all-important first impression card that will make or break your presentation.

Use past examples

All colleges have past successful portfolio examples – often, in library catalogs. Locate some of these examples and use them as a compass in creating an impressive collection of works.

Intersperse your best projects within your portfolio

Determine your best project and commence your collection of works with it. Intersperse the rest of the works you consider outstanding in the portfolio but make sure you conclude with an exceptional piece.

Depict the breadth of your skills

The works you choose should show the scope and potential of your skills across various pertinent themes. For college purposes, do not populate your portfolio with works similar in nature regardless of how outstanding they may be.

Include relevant examples

If the rules allow, include the examples you see fit. Appropriate examples offer a good way to enhance portfolio credibility.

The importance of context

Ascertain that all the pieces in your portfolio are in context. Regarding graphic design, without contextualizing a project, the most important aspects can be easily overlooked by the reviewing panel.


Source for recommendations from satisfied clients and include them if the rules allow. They will embellish and add more gravity to your portfolio.

Allude to other design related skills you may have

If you are good in photography or any other design related skill, find a creative way of implying or mentioning the same.

Change perspectives

The best way to ensure that your portfolio is ironclad is to develop it assuming the point of view of the reviewer. Ask yourself questions such as, “if I were a panel member, would this impress me?” and so on.

Pass it by other people

Present your portfolio to individuals in the design industry you look up to for constructive criticism. It might help unearth errors or mistakes you were blind to.

Printed works

For printed works that you may wish to include, photographs of the same are acceptable provided they are high quality and high resolution.


A good portfolio should be well balanced regarding the variety of themes represented and the range of projects included.

Make your portfolio tell a story

A great portfolio should have a sense of flow and ideally, tell a story. If the projects you intend to include cannot achieve the latter, strive for the former. The key is for the presentation to not seem as a random collection of works bundled together.

Mention how you worked

Be sure to mention particular stories of interest behind some of your graphic design projects including how you worked to achieve them – the design process you subscribe to is important.

Easy navigation

Make sure your portfolio is easy to navigate, clean, and comfortable to the eye. The desire to impress often results in overcomplicating things which is never a good idea.

Include works you do not like

It seems counterproductive, but as you may already know, sometimes, clients are deeply impressed by projects that you do not particularly like. Include a few such works in your portfolio.


Inject some personality into your portfolio to foster uniqueness like a personal logo for instance. However, do not go overboard.


Strive for simplicity – often, beauty and elegance reside in simplicity


Mention the results where applicable, and how they were measured to add more credibility to the projects you showcase.

Review your portfolio

With the help of an expert if possible, review your portfolio, update it, edit, add, or remove some entries until you feel comfortable with the final product.

To create an excellent portfolio, you will need time. Take note of the submission deadline and start compiling your portfolio a month or more prior so as to have enough time to make necessary edits and do a quality review.