“Students who have a clearly defined purpose, passion, and plan are more likely to be retained, graduate, and make it to the next level.”
--Dr. Ivory M. Berry, Associate Director of Retention and Student Success
One of the primary reasons students go to college is to hopefully someday graduate and secure a relatively good paying job. Our goal in the College of Science and Mathematics is to be intentional on framing the need for students to engage in on-going career development and preparation activities from the time they are admitted to the university through graduation in order to eventually be an ideal candidate for graduate or professional school and the job market.
As such, students are highly encouraged to develop and execute a Student Success Plan, consisting of four key phases. The word “phases” is used instead of a “4-year” plan because the boundaries of phases are blurred, which allows for a continuous, rather than discrete transition from phase to phase and takes into consideration students entering with significant college credits or perhaps those who are part-time status, non-traditional, transfer, probation, and change of majors. Further, students are permitted to revisit a phase, if necessary, and advance to the next phase when they are ready.
Lay the Foundation
During this phase the focus is laying a new foundation or reinforcing an existing foundation for college student success, noting that what worked in high school may not be as effective in college. At the end of the phase you want to have some clarity on your purpose for pursuing a higher education degree and feel well equipped to persist to degree completion. Key activities and strategies during this phase:
- Build a strong GPA. Participate in study skills workshops, tutoring, study tables, supplemental instruction, and office hours.
- Contact your academic advisor to develop a plan of study.
- Join a Learning Community and attend events to connect with students, faculty, and staff.
- Establish work-life-school balance. Learn time management skills and strategies.
- Familiarize yourself with campus resources, services, rules, and policies.
- Get involved. Join a club or organization.
“Get in tune with your star player--YOU”
During this phase the focus is major and career reflection and exploration, tapping into your passion. At the end of this phase you want to feel comfortable in the direction that you’re heading and have a plan to get to the next level. Key activities and strategies during this phase:
- Take a careers course in your major (BIO 2100, PHY 1000/1010, EES 4280, or PSY 2020) and/or schedule a meeting with your academic advisor.
- Organize a job shadowing experience with someone in your field of interest.
- Pull job postings to see what credentials, experiences, skills, and qualifications are required and preferred in order to be considered for the job.
- Assess the areas you’re lacking and develop an action plan to fill those voids.
- If graduate or professional school is on your radar, get a feel for the program details and admissions criteria and read the current student profiles to see what experiences and opportunities they took advantage of prior to admissions and develop a plan of action to incorporate similar experiences.
“Go get it!”
Now that you’ve developed a plan of action, it’s time to execute the plan. At the end of this phase you want to be in love with the process and the academic experience and feel excited about the next level—graduate or professional school and the job market. Key activities and strategies during this phase:
- Participate in experiential learning opportunities, such as internships or relevant student worker positions—paid and non-paid, and research opportunities through Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning.
- Enroll in the GRE or MCAT preparatory courses if you’re planning to go to graduate school or medical school, respectively.
- Seek out opportunities to be a teaching assistant for a class; sign up to be a tutor for classes in your major; or become an instructor for a supplemental instruction course or a peer mentor for a learning community seminar to demonstrate you’ve mastered content in your discipline.
- Demonstrate your commitment to service and community engagement through extended volunteer opportunities and taking on leadership activities on campus or within the community.
Operate in Confidence
You’ve been doing “the work” and your resume and portfolio should be reflective of this. Now you have to make your pitch. Key activities and strategies during this phase:
- Consult with the Career Center to develop your resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills to best reflect and represent your experiences and qualifications.
- Complete your graduate and/or professional school applications. Write powerful personal statements for graduate and/or professional schools detailing your research experience and other experiential learning opportunities.
- Seek letters of recommendations and references from research mentors, faculty, and/or internship supervisors.
- Search for Job Opportunities.
- Approach the job market with confidence and an open mind knowing that you are at least minimally qualified.
- Maintain in your studies. This is your last chance to improve your GPA.