Growing need for student portfolios

April 6, 2022

One of the most rewarding aspects of being an educator is helping a student figure out who they are and how to tell that story. But empowering students to succeed in life after high school is easier said than done. 

When some of us were in school, teachers stuffed all our special projects, report cards, and random notes in a Trapper Keeper each year. Funny in hindsight, but what a mess! Today we’re not much better. You might find student files scattered across Google Drive, Dropbox, LMS, or other storage spaces. 

Now it’s time for job and college applications. High school juniors and seniors start to panic when they realize how much work organizing and summarizing their experience is. What have they done for the last four years? What did it all mean? For the last few decades, students only have grades and test scores to show for all those years of the learning journey

5 ways to encourage students to stand out from the crowd

Guiding a student to track their journey or create a graduate profile is time-consuming work. This type of educational mentoring involves reviewing and reflecting on a mentee’s personal life, their interaction with peers, their reputation, and academic progress. This is important to do before graduation because hiring managers and university admissions offices routinely say high school students aren’t able to articulate what they’re all about and what they’d like to do with their life. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Millennials take 5,000 pictures per year on a smartphone. It’s no surprise that their children are a favorite photo subject. Typical families have all those photos and videos dispersed across social media and smartphones, with captions occasionally serving as a cryptic translation. 

We talk with a lot of educators who are on the same page with us about tracking learning journeys, but stuck on the how. Their experiences bring to mind a floor full of disorganized shoe boxes with lids, tissue paper, and shoes scattered about. 

It’s the same story for students on a STEM path. Students and parents snapping pictures of science experiments on the kitchen table, woodworking in the backyard, class bloopers, and award ceremonies. Tossing in a few handwritten labels and here and there.

We can’t over-emphasize the importance of a student portfolio. It’s the secret to a student’s success!