FAQs

What is the procedure for submitting my portfolio?

Portfolios will be submitted online using this online form. Please note that you will also pledge your portfolio via this form.

Submit your portfolio as a PDF. Please title your file as follows: Lastname_Firstname Example: Roberts_Bob

What are the annotations?

The portfolio requires two different kinds of annotations: one Global Annotation and three individual annotations (one for each of your three essays). Think of these as introductions to different parts of your portfolio.

The Global Annotation is the first component of your portfolio -- it appears before your essays. In the Global Annotation, you should discuss how you have developed as a writer over the past few years. You should also preview some of the strengths of your portfolio.

For each of the three required papers you need to include an individual annotation. These annotations should include a description of when, where, why, and how you wrote the piece. Did you write it for a class or from scratch? If for a class, what was the original assignment/prompt? If from scratch, why did you choose this particular topic or experience to write about? What intended reader do you have in mind for the piece? What are you goals with it? If applicable, what is your thesis? Did you workshop the essay in class? Did you visit the Writing Center to work on it? If applicable, what was the research process for the piece? What kinds of sources did you use, and why? What do you like about this particular piece? Why did you include it in your portfolio? Be sure to state also the bibliographic style used to document your sources (e.g., APA, MLA, etc.). You may also want to note how the paper fits the category (for example, how the paper is an example of "making sense of experience").

Please note that the annotations are extremely important to the portfolio and deserve the same attention to detail given your papers. Remember that the annotations are your readers' first interaction with you as an author. Therefore, strive to create a favorable impression. And proofread, proofread, proofread!

Can I write a paper just for the portfolio?

Yes. You can write any or all of the portfolio categories from scratch. You can also revise essays that you've used for courses, making them better fits for the portfolio.

I am a transfer student. Can I use papers from my other college or university?

Yes. You can use up to two papers from another college or university. However, in order to use these papers, please schedule a meeting with the Writing Portfolio Director, to provide proof that these papers were written for a college course. Proof can be a graded copy of the paper, the assignment sheet, or an email from the professor or TA asserting that you wrote the paper for them. You must speak with the Director about these papers before turning in the portfolio.

What options are available for students with documented academic accommodations through the Office of Accessibility?

There are no accommodations that provide an extension of the portfolio deadline.

Do I have to put page numbers on my papers?

Page numbers are not required . . . but they are usually pretty helpful.

Are headings necessary?

Consider your portfolio as four units: the Global Annotation, Annotation1+Essay 1, Annotation2+Essay 2, and Annotation 3+Essay 3. At the top of your Global Annotation, each of the annotations, please identify each category by number on your submissions. In other words, please identify the paper for the "making sense of experience" submission as #1 and the argument paper as #2 and so on. These demarcations help our readers with their assessment.

How long does the portfolio have to be?

Each of your three essays should be well developed, offering readers a robust discussion of the topic at hand. Rarely will a very, very short essay meet this requirement. As you review your essays, reflect on whether you have provided readers the context, details, analysis, evidence, etc. that they may need. Reflect also on whether a very, very long essay could be condensed to represent most effectively your ideas.

Are there any portfolio samples?

Yes. Each year six portfolios are honored as the George P.E. Meese Writing in Excellence award winners and are bound together in red volumes. These volumes are available in the Writing Center, the library, and the Foundations Collegium office in Brown Hall. There is also a sample portfolio online here.

How can I get help with my portfolio?

Visit the Writing Center! Meet with your mentor and professors!

Can I use papers from Human Experience?

Yes. However: remember that you wrote these papers your freshman year and that the portfolio is being assessed for upper-level writing proficiency. If you choose to use papers from Human Experience, make sure that they undergo substantial revision to reflect a more sophisticated writing style and thought process.

When can I turn in my portfolio?

You can turn in your portfolio beginning fall of your junior year.

What happens if I do not pass the portfolio?

If you do not pass the portfolio you will receive a detailed letter from a professor in the Rhetoric discipline with suggestions for how to improve your portfolio. You are required to enroll in a composition course the following semester. If you are a senior who does not pass the writing portfolio you will not be able to enroll in comps.

Do I have to turn in a portfolio?

Yes. The portfolio is a graduation requirement that ALL students must complete. No exceptions.

Can I turn in my portfolio while studying abroad?

Yes. Portfolios are submitted online using a Google form so as long as you have access to Google, you can submit your portfolio. Note: the portfolio must be received by 4PM EST on the due date (not when 4PM strikes where you are).

How will I know if I passed the portfolio?

You will receive an email announcing that results are available on your Degree Audit.

If a paper got a B or an A in a course, isn't that good enough?

Rather than trying to guess what will be respected by the evaluators, it is more important for writers to recognize that portfolio evaluation is a different situation than course grading. Often professors assign and read course papers to get a picture of a student's analytic skill, or ability to work with course information, and in some of these instances, writing quality, while important, becomes a secondary concern for establishing a grade. A paper that received a B in one course could reasonably be judged as "marginal" in a different course for which the quality of writing is a dominant concern. Also, realize that your writing matures markedly during two or three academic years, so even an A paper from first semester can fail to meet a C standard for a senior paper. Consequently, use your most mature editing practices to revise ALL of your earlier work before submitting your portfolio.

What papers can I revise?

You can revise all your papers. In fact, we encourage you to spend time revising your papers to make them as strong as possible and as reflective of a senior-level of writing as possible.

How much revision do I really need to do?

Portfolio evaluators are judging communicative competence, and they are seeing a student's work for the first time. It is good practice to revise your papers as if they were going to be read by a prospective employer in a job interview situation (another "first meeting"). All employers emphasize competence in writing and speaking for every hire, so show them your best in your application letters, your correspondence, your resume -- and your writing portfolio. In fact, former graduates have reported that they used their writing portfolios as evidence of competency in both graduate school applications and job hunts. Revise until you are showing your very best written efforts.

Can I submit a paper that is not in English?

No. All papers for the portfolio must be in English. As a general education requirement, portfolios are read and evaluated by members of the general faculty and the Writing Excellence program. All portfolios are randomly assigned to readers—we do not, nor should we, select certain portfolios for certain readers.