College applications and career resumes are simple, white sheets of paper with a black, Times New Roman font explaining a person’s life in short form. It may be the most ridiculous and uninsightful way to represent one’s self. Blame it on tradition or the lack of gumption, but everyday thousands – if not millions – are sent to scholarship committees, university admissions, and employers around the country with the hope they will find something interesting in the lackluster format.
Pathbrite believes no one’s life should be summed up in bullet points. It should be viewed in color; not read in black and white.
Pathbrite, which launched in March at SXSW in Austin, is a site for collaboration of a person’s past accomplishments, adventures, and whatever makes them unique. It is the new way to assemble the application letter or the resume.
“Students are multi-dimensional,” said Regan Caruthers, vice president of sales for Pathbrite. “Pathbrite is a way to showcase yourself. You can showcase your learning. It’s more compelling than the traditional college application or resume.”
Users are enabled to assemble personal video, audio, and images into portfolios to better represent who they are.
Caruthers said people, including herself, have pieces of themselves all over the place through the numerous social media outlets, but Pathbrite is a place to pull it together for free.
Caruthers joined the Pathbrite team in April after working in the education technology field with companies including Kno, Inc., CourseSmart, and McGraw Hill Higher Education. She also served as the Director of System-wide Digital Content Strategy for the Office of the Chancellor with the California Community Colleges and as Director of Communications and Business Development for the Office of the Chancellor with the California State University System. Her experience has given her insight on not only the technology aspect, but on the trends of education and the needs of students and recent graduates.
She said with so many applicants looking similar, it’s the person’s humanity or biography that stands out. It gives the scholarship founder more intrinsic value and it allows college to select certain criteria from a person’s portfolio that is relevant to their evaluation.
Christopher Gray, the company’s chief product officer, said Pathbrite goes a bit deeper for students than just letting their grades be evaluated by a college. He said it’s the idea of self curation.
“We offer a 3D picture of the student,” he said. “The scores and what they are doing with the scores. We demonstrate the scoring. We can separate them from other students who have the same grades.”
Gray, who joined the company at the beginning of September, said Pathbrite is currently in talks with schools, including Stanford University, and companies to have them create their own portfolio templates for applicants to tell their story in a way the certain recipient is expecting to view it.
The site also provides statistics on how users’ portfolios have been viewed, which pieces have been viewed the most, the least, and which piece is clicked on and then never viewed again. It narrows down the margin of error for students, recent graduates, and other jobseekers.
“For bachelor graduates, the portfolio allows companies to differentiate after the minimum credible criteria has been met,” Gray said. “The person is taking control of how they’re perceived and how they’re perceived on the web.”
Gray’s past experience in the online learning platform industry has also helped him guide the company’s product along a seamless line. He said much of his experience in the development and training fields were motivated by budget cuts which forced him to begin using blended learning before blended learning was popular.
“I learned that learners were resourceful and will go around obstacles to learn what they need to learn,” he said. “
Caruthers said the company’s product is a much-needed tool, especially with the challenges facing higher education.
“Higher education is facing great challenges that historical solutions cannot solve,” she said. “It is important for every human being to own themselves in the education field. Somehow the user – teacher, faculty, or student – can get lost in all that tech. Pathbrite allows students to own their education rather than just being a student at a particular university.”
Pathbrite is currently integrating with various social media networks, most recently Facebook, and e-learning groups to create a better, more social experience with the site. For users who may be unsure of how to put together a portfolio, the company has assembled the top portfolios as a template.
“If we’re going to change education to make it better for students then we need to recognize the change of behavior,” Caruthers said. “People have to have a support system to forge ahead, which is what Pathbrite does for students. We let them know that they’re not alone in this. Curating yourself is a new behavior and they need to see the value in that.”
Follow Dustin Bass on Twitter @dbass_cmn