Ahead of the curve compared to a number of other colleges and universities, MCLA expects all of its students to compile an ePortfolio, which is used to track their learning throughout their college experience. It's a standard requirement for every student on campus - not just select groups who study in particular programs or departments.
"What only gets a sentence on a resume can have its own page in an ePortfolio, with videos, photos and reflection," said Jessica Nestell '12 of Ulters, N.Y. "It shows not just what I did, but what I learned."
The ePortfolio is an electronic resume that students build upon throughout their years as an MCLA undergraduate. Students record their academic and co-curricular activities on this digital format in a variety of ways, that include video, sound recordings, and much more.
According to Dr. Gerol Petruzella '01, coordinator of academic technology, having a well-designed ePortfolio signals a student's maturity and preparedness in a way no traditional resume can.
"It gives students a platform designed to showcase the important work they do throughout college that doesn't fit into a transcript, but which, as a liberal arts institution, we believe is integral to a complete education," he said.
At this year's annual Undergraduate Research Conference, eight students - the recipients of the 2012 MCLA ePortfolio Fellowship - discussed the merits of the ePortfolio. The fellowship provided them with an in-depth study of the ePortfolio and digication, the software that hosts it.
"Along with presenting the work we have done on our own ePortfolios at the Undergraduate Research Conference, through this program, we also hosted special sessions where students could stop by and we could help them work on their ePortfolios," said Brycen Waters '13 (pictured above), of South Glens Falls, N.Y.
"The ePortfolio is an engaging and captivating way to show graduate schools what I have learned here and how I put what I have learned into practice. I plan a career in higher education and student affairs, so an ePortfolio is the perfect way to showcase what I have done as residence assistant, an orientation leader, and with other various leadership positions that I hold on campus. My ePortfolio will set me apart," Waters said.
Does having an ePortfolio give MCLA students an advantage over others as they compete for the same internships, jobs or slots in graduate schools? According to Petruzella, the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"
"In addition to showcasing a student's work directly, a well-designed ePortfolio also can communicate a great deal indirectly about a student's digital skills, a real and valuable - even indispensible - asset, no matter what one's field," Petruzella said.
Waters hopes his conference presentation inspired other students to take full advantage of the ePortfolio program. And, because he became very knowledgeable about the ePortfolio software through his study as an ePortfolio fellow, he encourages students who desires help on their ePortfolio to contact him.
Said Nestell, "When I Google myself, the first thing that pops up is my ePortfolio, not my Facebook. So if a future employer decides to put my name into Google, I know what they're getting. And that's huge."