Record Co-Curricular Achievement and Leadership
The academic record is no longer enough to make an applicant competitive in the job market. Twenty-first century employers look for soft skills that can’t always be gained purely through the classroom, and our research shows that co-curricular experiences like student organization participation, service engagement, internships and student employment are key to developing these skills.
Yet, students don’t always recognize the value of their own engagement when it comes time to draft a resume or prepare for a job interview. In particular, first generation college students can gain the most from these experiences but view them as separate from their academic work, not thinking to promote their co-curricular engagement. Colleges and universities can support students by instituting a co-curricular record (also called involvement record, co-curricular transcript, or comprehensive student record, with slight distinctions to each term) that automatically tracks college involvement a student might not realize the value in independently documenting until much later. This way, the bystander intervention training a student attends their first semester is still recorded and resume-ready when the same student changes their major to social work and applies for an internship with a crisis-counseling center several years later.
Beyond just providing a helpful documented record for the student, a co-curricular record can help teach students how to articulate what they are learning for an external audience. When a student enters their experiences independently to a record, they reflect on the value of the experience and practice explaining how it was meaningful.
While co-curricular records have been popular across institution types, two-year institutions have embraced this format for supporting students in both job application preparation as well as transfer applications to four-year institutions. These campuses lead the way by showing how a co-curricular record can support a diverse student body in making meaning of their co-curricular experiences and articulating that meaning to others.
Metropolitan Community College
The Metropolitan Community College (MCC) career page encourages students to use their “Involvement Record” to capture the impact of out-of-classroom experiences on the “student's learning and overall campus experience.” MCC uses Engage’s co-curricular record feature to automatically track event attendance and student organization participation on an unofficial involvement record that the student can download or update at any time. In particular, MCC uses the Involvement Record to illuminate the college’s focus on experiential and service learning.
In order to highlight the feature, MCC launched an Involvement Record campaign that promoted a guide they created detailing both the value of reporting experiences on an involvement record as well as the process of doing so on Engage. The campaign incorporated meetings with academic deans and faculty as well as classroom presentations, community partner trainings and student trainings.
“I was submitting applications for universities and I was able to attach my beautiful involvement record of all of the opportunities and organizations that I was involved with. When I was able to call my advisor and talk to them, they could identify my application and recognize me because of my involvement record – it made me stand out.”– Metropolitan Community College Student
In addition to automated tracking, MCC added a series of experience types that students can submit to document, typically requiring administrative approval to have formally shown on the record. These experience types include: Career Development; Community Engagement; Multicultural Experience; Training; and more. The different experience types were put together by a focus group dedicated to establishing what the college thought was important to document. By naming the experience types across these themes, MCC prompts the student to think about the basic value of the experience in question when they submit it to their record.
This is further augmented by a reflection component to each experience. For example, a student documenting a technical training offered by a community partner wrote about tangible skills they learned related to water filtration. In a less tangible example, a student reflecting on a service experience wrote that the experience helped her realize privilege she held related to ability status she had not thought of before.
Service happens to be quite a popular use of the co-curricular record across the college. One campus partner wrote: “When first approached about joining the My Hub programs to allow for our students to register and track their service-learning hours, we were super excited as our students do so many things in the community that we felt this was the missing piece. Once staff showed us how easy it was to use the system, we knew it was a perfect opportunity for our students to record these hours.”
Interested in learning more?
- Download our whitepaper on the learning value of co-curricular experiences
- Explore options for tracking campus involvement