OPINION: Is the junior writing portfolio necessary? 

Graduation requirements often unclear to some, junior writing portfolio is one of them


I had to take the junior writing portfolio timed write early because I was seen as a junior, despite not actually being in my third year of college. I love writing, but I hate the way that the portfolio is set up. I cannot remember if anyone told me about the portfolio before I saw it as a hold on my account. 

“Honestly, I understand the need for it, and as someone who is a writer, I don’t personally mind sending in my stuff. I was okay with turning in my writing for the university to see,” said Allyson Pang, junior double major in multimedia journalism and creative writing.

I was fine with submitting work too, but the timed write was my problem. Scheduling it ended up being a pain. Then I went and did the timed write, only to find out it was no longer a requirement as the next semester hit. 

I begrudgingly submitted my work, surprised by how easy it was but annoyed that I did the timed write in the first place. 

Pang said she thinks the writing portfolio is important for everyone because everyone will have to write for their job and use the skills the portfolio looks for, even if the career is not writing-centric. Even in emails, writing skills can be helpful to have, she said. 

Personally, I have yet to decide how I really feel about the portfolio. While I agree with Pang that it is good to have a baseline, I have also heard two different arguments against the portfolio that I partially agree with. 

The first argument I’ve heard is that since English majors write all the time, we shouldn’t need to send in our work. I understand this argument because if you write well enough to get through 300- and 400-level English courses, you should be fine to pass the portfolio.

On the other hand, that means we have a ton of papers to choose from, so just submitting work is easy. It is a mild inconvenience at best. 

The other argument is that STEM students should be exempt from the writing portfolio, and these writing skills should be covered in the UCORE writing courses, because they might not have many essays. I do think people who don’t get graded for writing essays all the time probably need the portfolio more, but it does make it more stressful.

Pang said she also works at the WSU’s Undergraduate Writing Center Services and recently helped someone choose what papers to submit to the portfolio, but she has noted that some students have no idea about the writing portfolio at all.

She and I also agree that it is stressful to worry about it when you hit junior credits before you are in your third year, if you come to WSU with a significant number of existing credits.

Neither of us are sure if transfer students can use non-WSU work, but I would hope we could. For me, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that no one told me about the writing portfolio until it was time to do it. 

Pang said she remembers talking to some English 102 students who had no clue what the writing portfolio was. She explained it so they would know to save their papers. 

“It is not talked about as much as it should be, considering it is required to graduate,” Pang said. 

Pang and I thought it might be good to nix the junior aspect of the junior writing portfolio and just require it before graduation. Beginning courses for writing should absolutely remind students of the portfolio to make sure they are aware of it. 

No longer having to complete the timed write is a perk, as timed writing cannot be used to represent a student’s best writing. Pang said she finds timed writes a fun challenge but everyone writes differently, so it lacks a real benefit.

I can’t think of a job that will ask me to sit down, read an article, and write an academic essay on it in forty minutes. My assumption is that I will be given a deadline to meet, the necessary requirements and then the rest is up to me. 

Overall, I think making it a general portfolio and discarding the timed writing for good, would be more beneficial. As for whether or not I think everyone should have to do it, I’m still uncertain.