Students camp in the Central Rocky
Mountains during a MayX course.


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,, 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.

Professor of Education George Lipscomb
outside Herman N. Hipp Hall.

“While many students come into Furman with definite views on their futures, giving them the space to explore is crucial to the Pathways experience, and I have enjoyed being part of their educational and personal journeys.”

Professor of Education

The Center for Engaged Learning oversees and facilitates these high-impact, co-curricular opportunities. This year, it supported more students over the summer through the summer fellows program. The number of undergraduate research fellows increased 23%, and summer internship fellows rose by 40%. Summer research fellows conduct full-time research on campus for eight to 10 weeks. Summer internship fellows work full time for eight to 10 weeks in Greenville, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia, other U.S. cities, and abroad. The Internship Office assists students in locating and applying for summer and academic-year internships.

The Office of Undergraduate Research supports student-faculty research collaborations, and Furman’s undergraduate research efforts in all disciplines have earned national prominence.

A broad variety of indicators show that Furman is particularly strong in undergraduate research in the math and sciences. These indicators include more than 150 students who engage in summer research from math/science disciplines, a high rate of success in earning highly competitive federal grant funding, student/faculty coauthored publications in highly regarded, peer-reviewed journals across multiple disciplines, and national recognition of student and faculty excellence through numerous individual awards.

A direct career connection
This year, the Paladin Career Treks program brought students experiences spanning a variety of sectors. Students on the science and technology trek visited BioLabs, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline and AgBiome in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. Students on a fall trek to New York City visited major employers, such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Penguin Random House. A pre-law trek took students inside the U.S. Supreme Court, while closer to home, a nonprofit trek showed students the inner workings of United Ministries, the Kroc Center and United Way. Students met with staff members from the organizations, learned from a panel of industry professionals and discussed failure, overcoming adversity and the diverse career possibilities that nonprofits offer.

This fall, the Center for Engaged Learning, the Internship Office and the Malone Center for Career Engagement will offer students an Opportunity Fair. The inaugural fair targets organizations with a broader regional and national presence and connects students directly with organizations, allowing students and alumni to explore internship and full-time career opportunities.

Smith Childs ’20

of the class of 2019 “strongly agree” that they had at least one professor who made them excited about learning.

of the class of 2019 reported having an engaged learning experience at Furman

of the class of 2019 “strongly agree” or “agree” that they had an internship or job that allowed them to apply what they were learning in the classroom

of the class of 2019 participated in a semester-long or MayX study-away program

Students walk to United Ministries in Greenville, South Carolina, during a nonprofit
career trek in 2019. The experience helped Smith Childs '20 (second from right)
envision a career serving the public.