Tips for Success

Archive early, often and creatively

The more materials you save from your courses and other experiences over the next four years, the more fodder you will have for your final portfolio. Having a lot of archived material to choose from guarantees that your final portfolio will be a rich and accurate representation of your time at the UW. Archive early, and archive often! UW Google Docs allows you to do this easily, and will keep your documents in an archive that you can access no matter how many times you move or switch computers.

Also remember that a diverse collection of artifacts will make your portfolio more interesting, both for you and your audience. Course assignments and papers are great items to save and include, but also think about archiving PowerPoint presentations, labs, photographs, research posters or presentations, blog posts, videos, etc. This can help you make your portfolio more interactive and representative of the variety and richness of your experiences.

And finally, don't forget that the portfolio isn't meant to be a showcase of only your finest accomplishments. By all means, include those projects, papers or moments that make you really proud, but don't be afraid to include examples of things that haven't gone well, but were important milestones because of that very fact. Just remember to write about why those setbacks or challenges matter in your story: what did you learn about yourself? How are you going to carry that knowledge forward? How has that obstacle changed your path? 

Don't procrastinate: annotate!

This portfolio is designed to fuel your thinking as well as to document your undergraduate education, and as such, works best when you can see the process, not just the result. These four years will go by very fast, and after a while, it is hard to remember just how you felt when you first discovered your major or that perfect study abroad, how excited (or terrified) you were to start doing research on your own, or how it felt when you got back that first Physics midterm. Taking down some brief notes on your experiences and the artifacts you archive while they're happening will help you to reflect over time and make your final portfolio reflections richer and more meaningful for you and your audience. So, whenever you save an artifact in your archive, take the time to jot down some notes about why the artifact matters, what it represents about you in the moment, and how it might have changed where you're heading in the future. The more you write, the more information you'll have to choose from when compiling your final portfolio and presentation.

Organize your archive

We suggest you use UW Google Docs to save and store items and reflections. Google Docs is basic online storage, which means your information is always accessible to you, even if you're not on your own computer -- or even if you have any computer troubles. It also allows you to store a bunch of documents and file types, organize them, and then later pick and choose which to include in your final portfolio and presentation.

Regardless of how you choose to archive your coursework and other artifacts and annotations, it is a good idea to organize them. One way to do this in Google Docs is to create "collections" (similar to a folders) and "sub-collections" to organize your archived materials. You can create an “Honors Portfolio” collection with sub-collections for different types of entries: Honors 100, Experiential Learning, Honors Courses, Departmental/Major Courses, Other Courses, Personal. You could also organize by quarter and year. Whatever organizational method and tool works for you is fine by us, but figuring out how to organize your data early will help you to later find the materials you will need to create pages for on your portfolio.

Share your page with your pals

Don't wait until Honors 496 to take your portfolio on the road: it's meant to be interactive and shared. Brainstorm and share with your Honors Librarian, Honors and departmental advisers, course instructors, Experiential Learning supervisors, mentors, family, and friends. And don't forget that your peers are also creating portfolios, and you are in many ways one another’s best resources. Take the time to look at your peers’ portfolios and share your own: this will help in your reflections, as well as point you toward new experiences and courses, as well as new and creative ways to document those experiences!

Personalize your page

Your portfolio is all about you! We encourage you to be creative and original with your space, and to make it a true representation of who you are. Most platforms (UW Google Sites, Weebly, etc) allow you to change themes and layouts, and to insert pictures, slide shows, maps, videos, and a lot more. Take advantage of that freedom and make your portfolio a true representation of yourself!
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