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Preparing and Assembling the Honors College English Portfolio

Your portfolio could include up to five pieces of writing: four final pieces and one draft. All of the pieces would be equally important. These pieces of writing do not need to come from English classes; papers that were written in class or out of school, including college application essays, are acceptable. Papers may have been revised after being returned by a teacher.

Include in Your Portfolio:

  1. A Reflective Letter about Your Portfolio: The reflective letter introduces you and your portfolio to the faculty in the Honors College at IUP. When we reflect, we look back and consider something deeply. In this letter, you should describe in detail the process and considerations that went into creating and revising your portfolio. You might also explain the role of writing in your life and the way you have developed as a writer, or you might assess your writing skills. This reflective letter should give the faculty in the Honors College a clear understanding of who you are as a writer; you could think of it as your personal writing history.
  2. Three pieces of writing chosen from the following, suggested four options. Include clean (no teacher comments) copies of these selections:
    1. Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive Essay: This essay must have a strong central focus or point. Exploratory essays raise questions while explanatory essays answer them. (“How-to” papers, which simply explain a physical process, like changing your car’s oil, are not appropriate, nor are research papers that merely assemble information from other sources but contain few or no original ideas.) Persuasive papers are not necessarily argumentative, but the aim is to change the reader’s perspective on an issue.
    2. Response to a Written Text: This essay should respond to all or a part of a piece of writing. You might use literature, such as a poem or a novel. Or, you might want to use a newspaper article or magazine article. You may interpret it, evaluate it, explain its significance, compare it to other texts, put it into a historical or social context, relate it to your own experiences or values, or create your own response. If you use secondary sources, they should be in support of your own response. The important thing is to take a written text and use it as the basis for your response.
    3. Personal Narrative: Personal narratives tell a story about a real event in the writer’s life and indicate the significance of the experience to the author. The narrative should include plenty of relevant detail and information, so that readers have a clear sense of the setting, the events that occur, and the characters important to the narrative. It should include enough background to allow a wider audience to understand and appreciate it.
    4. Writer’s Choice: A piece of writing in any genre that exhibits your abilities as a writer. Poetry and other forms of creative writing are acceptable.
  3. A rough draft of one of the pieces of writing included in your portfolio: Drafts make your writing process visible to readers. Include an earlier version of one of the above-mentioned pieces. The draft can include comments from a teacher or other reader. Place the draft behind the piece of writing it helped create.

Page Limit: A maximum of 20 pages of writing should be included in the portfolio. The draft does not count toward this page limit.

Assemble your portfolio as follows:

  • Labeling:
    • Category Labels: Label the category of each piece of writing in your portfolio. These labels are in addition to any title you may have given each essay for its original purpose. (You may make category labels by hand.)
    • Name and ID Number: Write your name and your IUP ID number, which can be found in your recently mailed invitation letter, in the upper right corner of every page. (You may write this by hand also.)
  • Arrange your portfolio items in this order:
    • Reflective letter
    • If you have chosen from the following, in this order:
      • Explanatory, exploratory, or persuasive essay
      • Formal response to a written text
      • Personal narrative
      • Writer’s choice piece
    • Place the draft behind the essay it helped create.
  • Staple or paper clip each individual piece of writing and fasten the whole portfolio with a large paper clip. (Perhaps then place the complete set in a large envelope.)
  • Do not include any originals documents in your portfolio that you want back. No materials will be returned to you.

Remember: As a student admitted into the IUP Honors College, you do not pre-submit this portfolio. Instead, bring it with you to Orientation and submit it upon program check-in. Ask that the person checking you in make note of your submission.

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