Building Commitment through All Academic and Co-Curricular Levels

October 31, 2014

Colleges and universities that make authentic commitments to engagement and access align their academic and student affairs programs with the college access imperative. Through individual courses, majors and minors, and leadership programs, access is integrated into the student experience. Connections to the local community, schools, youth, and organizations enhance the curriculum through civic learning and engagement.

This set of resources provides guidance from existing programs as well as academic courses that integrate intentional experiences of engagement with youth for the purpose of Making College Happen.

Designing High-Quality Service-Learning Courses Focused on Making College Happen

Service-learning incorporates community work into the curriculum, giving students real-world learning experiences that enhance their academic learning while providing a tangible benefit for the community. Faculty members may conceptualize their courses’ community work to meet the aim of promoting college access. As discussed in A Promising Connection, service-learning has been shown to support current college students’ personal and academic development. Furthermore, the partnerships through which service-learning courses are grounded provide fertile ground for mentoring activities that lend themselves to college access initiatives.

Guide to designing high-quality service-learning courses

Campus Compact has numerous resources in both print and online available to aid you in designing a service-learning course. Here are some factors to consider in the context of service-learning focused on college access:

  • Determine where your service-learning experiences take place. Examples of high-quality service-learning focused on access bring school students into college classrooms, college students into school classrooms, and engage college students and youth in out-of-school time programs. See below for specific course examples.
  • Engaging youth in service-learning projects with college students is another potential format for the community experience. When working with youth on service-learning projects, a set of standards of practice in K-12 service-learning might be established and kept in mind when creating your syllabus.
  • College students need to be prepared for their work with youth. Service-learning centers and their community partners often offer support in training and orienting students for their experience. Determine whether you will build these preparatory experiences into your class time, will expect students to complete these requirements outside class time, or a combination. Adjust your expectations for students as you design your syllabus to to achieve a balance between norms at your institution and the reality that student learning is enhanced when students rise to a challenge. Use resources developed for College Positive Volunteers in preparing your students.

Exemplary Programs (with links to CC syllabi archive)

University of Washington’s Dream Project ties courses in the College of Education to its higher education access and engagement initiative. Students enroll in EDUC 260 for their first quarter of the program and re-enroll in EDUC 360 or 361. These one-credit courses also meet general education requirements in the Individuals and Societies area. In addition to the one-credit classroom course, students enroll in EDUC 369, the “Dream Project Visit” course that reserves the space on their schedule and may be taken as “credit/no credit” option. These visit courses are scheduled in collaboration with community partner schools to meet their needs.

Campus Compact Syllabi Archive

Further Reading

Barbara Jacoby (2014). Service-Learning Essentials: Questions, Answers, and Lessons Learned. Jossey Bass. ISBN: 978-1-118-62794-5

Links to Additional Resources

Service-Learning and Academic Success

Service-Learning and Retention

Research Brief: How Can Engaged Campuses Improve Student Success in College

Making College Happen through College Positive Volunteerism

College Positive Volunteerism provides training for college students (and their faculty and/or administrators) to volunteer with K-12 youth as a part of a course or service-learning program on their college campuses. College Positive Volunteers (CPVs) intentionally act as ambassadors of higher education when serving with youth, exposing them to college options and resources and materials to be successful in the college exploration and application process.

Guide to training College Positive Volunteers

The Campus Compact College Positive Volunteer toolkit is a step-by-step volunteer training guide. This guide was developed as a resource to prepare volunteers working with various age groups (elementary youth, middle school youth, high school youth, parents, and adults returning to college). The toolkit includes the following sections:

  • Understanding All Students
  • Before Volunteering Checklist
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Using the Language of College Access
  • Knowing Talking Points about Your College
  • College Prep Checklists for each level
  • Activities for College Positive Volunteers and youth
  • Advice regarding paying for college

Exemplary Programs

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth – The College Positive Program at UMass Dartmouth is dedicated to helping local youth achieve the dream of a college education by assisting and advising students on the college-bound path. These efforts are aimed at increasing college enrollment and success for all students by providing them with support and information about college preparation, paying for college, etc. UMass Dartmouth College Positive students volunteer as a part of a service program, representing higher education as they expose youths to college options, resources, and materials to be successful in college exploration. The program employs Federal Work Study Students and directly partners with the local Durfee High School.

Grand Valley State University – Trainings are facilitated through the GVSU Community Service Learning Center. The CPV Program includes training and curriculum supported by state and federal funding. It is a joint undertaking between Michigan Campus Compact and the state’s Martin Luther King, Jr. César Chávez-Rosa Parks (KCP) Initiative as part of its KCP GEAR UP/College Day (GU/CD) Program within the Michigan Department of energy, Labor & Economic Growth.

Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University’s (CMU) GEAR UP program, started through a grant from Michigan Campus Compact, incorporates College Positive Volunteerism (CPV) into their existing MI GEAR UP programming by establishing a cohort of college student leaders who recruit additional college students to serve with youth, expose them to higher education and let them know that college is achievable, accessible and affordable.

Each year, two student leaders:

  • Assemble teams of at least ten additional students to be trained as College Positive Volunteers;
  • Connect CPV teams with opportunities to serve as college access resources to MI GEAR UP youth;
  • Work with the teams helped to coordinate and implement GEAR UP events and activities with a CPV focus;
  • Recruit and train additional college student volunteers to serve within MI GEAR UP programming; and
  • Work towards creating a structure to sustain CPV efforts for future years.

The CPVs serving with GEAR UP at CMU help host and staff several large-scale events for their GEAR UP cohort. Every student who serves with CMU’s GEAR UP program is first trained in CPV, integrating the training into their core components and values. CPV has become so ingrained at CMU that all other offices on campus send student volunteers to be trained through the CMU GEAR UP program before serving in the community. Central Michigan University, as an institution, has truly embraced CPV.

Links to Additional Resources

College Positive Volunteer toolkit

Know How 2 Go

National College Access Network Resources

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