The results are everywhere — in the survey data, in the engaged learning experiences, and in each immersive, defining experience that lays the groundwork for a meaningful four years. But for those who are a part of a pilot program, it all starts with a two-year advising plan that students enter their first year to ease their transition to college and explore their individualized pathway. For those students, the promise of The Furman Advantage unfolds from there through student-faculty research, study away, community engagement, internships and direct connections to employers.
A guided journey
A life of purpose does not take shape by accident. Furman students are on a four-year pathway, synthesizing what they learn both in and out of the classroom, informed by conversations with mentors and advisers, and using their engaged learning experiences to refine their values, interests and skills. Reflecting on these experiences advances students’ sense of purpose and prepares them to pursue a life of impact, whether in graduate school, professional school or employment.
The first cohort of the two-year Pathways Advising Program – made up of 85 students, seven faculty advisers and one staff adviser – has now completed the second year, while the second cohort – made up of 142 students, six faculty and six staff advisers, and two peer mentors – has completed its first year. The good news is that across both cohorts, students reported greater satisfaction with advising, an increased sense of belonging and higher scores on items measuring resilience. These students also rated themselves as having a greater sense of purpose.
Meanwhile, advisers reported forming deeper relationships with their first-year advisees in the Pathways program. For third- and fourth-year students, a Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education Program Development Grant, provided by the Council of Independent Colleges and the Lilly Endowment, supports the development of academic department programming and resources. The grant is specifically focused on professional development and reflection on careers and life after Furman. A workshop over the summer focused on giving faculty the resources and support to refine their department’s curricular and co-curricular offerings. The goal: to meet their students’ needs and to extend their pathways into majors.
Learning through experience
From studying Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon to mentoring underserved kids at a local farm, our students fully immersed themselves in real-world challenges. These experiences – an internship, study away, research or community project – are what engaged learning is all about. And each one brings students closer to defining their purpose after graduation.
The Internship Office has expanded its Sophomore Engaged shadowing program to Atlanta. About 20 alumni and friends of Furman hosted students in their places of work, which included Keysight Technologies, Indeed.com, Home Depot’s corporate office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The breadth and depth of Furman’s Engaged Learning Program was demonstrated in April at the 11th annual Furman Engaged!, a day-long celebration of immersive learning experiences. More than 600 students presented, while more than 1,200 students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and community members attended sessions.
Throughout the day, we saw tangible evidence of what students learned about their disciplines and about themselves.
The following month, about 300 students participated in a MayX study away program — from studying biology in Ecuador to environmental issues in China to slow food in Italy. More than 200 participated in a semester study way program.