From the Blog

Off to College: A Student Interview With Jay Gardoqui

Below is an audition video Jay Gardoqui submitted as part of his application to DePaul University’s Sound Recording Technology program. After watching the video, read our interview with Jay to learn more about his college application process.

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Listen on Spotify

Next year, Jay Gardoqui will be a freshman at DePaul University; he will be a student in DePaul’s Sound Recording Technology program. Listen to his work on Spotify by clicking the link above.

What did you submit for college?

When applying to DePaul University, I focused almost all of my effort on my two audition videos and my portfolio. For my major—sound recording technology—there was no set of requirements for what my audition videos had to consist of, so I was able to be creative and take them in a direction I was confident in. I did not submit SAT scores.

What was the process like?

The process for me was long; however, it was honestly pretty fun! I went through a bunch of virtual tours and info days, which helped me get in contact with the director of DePaul’s Sound Recording Technology program. Most of the material I included in my portfolio was made on my own time for fun, which is awesome because I was able to take my most personal work and use that to strengthen my application, instead of having to project an image of myself that I thought colleges would like to see.

How did you show your strengths beyond your grades?

Throughout high school, I did a lot of things; there’s no better way to put it. I got involved in community service at a very young age and continued that. I participated in clubs. I did sports. I made enough music to assemble a portfolio. I entered contests that I thought I could succeed in. Basically, I showed that my grades are not all that I am, that they do not encompass my skills and passions as a student. While my grades aren’t below the standard for DePaul, they would certainly not have gotten me in alone.

Audition videos and a portfolio are a lot of work. Was it worth it? Do you feel the college got a more accurate view of you?

In my experience, putting together a portfolio and audition videos was 100% worth it. If I wasn’t able to do those for DePaul, they would have a completely different view of who I am. If you are a musician who is trying to get into great schools just by writing essays, you are essentially trying to translate your musical ideas into words, which can be almost impossible. Being able to present my own music as my case for being admitted made the most sense to me, although that is not to say it will make the most sense to others. The important part is that I had many options as to how to communicate my skill set. By submitting my videos and portfolio, I was able to show the school a set of skills I had developed outside of high school, which would have been invisible to them if I had just submitted traditional application materials.

Do you think it would be a good idea for more colleges (beyond art & music schools) to invite portfolios, videos, or creative work from students?

Absolutely! Creative work like music and art (or other things that students do outside of school) can show so much about someone, far beyond their artistic talent. I think any application would be furthered with a portfolio of work that the artist was passionate about. By looking at a portfolio of different kinds of work, the college can learn about the energy the student puts into learning things on their own, the standard of quality they hold themselves to, and the vision they have for their own creations.

Here is a link to one of my audition videos. I was very excited about the ability to make my own audition videos because they allowed me to showcase skills that I learned on my own time, outside of school. Since I am self-taught in FL Studio, a digital audio workstation that I use to produce music, my two videos focused on projects I was proud of. I was able to explain exactly how I produced my songs, and demonstrate my knowledge about music production. In the age of Youtube and TikTok, many students are learning skills like mine on their own time. It would be great to see colleges or high schools find more ways to allow those skills to be developed and showcased, and would likely help some students be admitted to better schools.