Augustana launches a new approach to prepare students for success

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Rock Island, Ill.—The days of putting in four years of rigorous academic work in college, then heading to the career placement office on campus in spring of senior year for a job assignment are over. When students leave college, they have to be prepared to stand out to potential employers and graduate schools. They must have more to show for their college experience than a degree with a high GPA.

In response to the current job environment, Augustana College students were greeted this fall by a new educational approach for preparing students for life. CORE (Careers, Opportunities, Research and Exploration), combines dozens of staff members from advising, career development, community outreach, internships, entrepreneurial development, research, study away, the Upper Mississippi Center and vocational exploration into one hub in the middle of Augustana’s campus.

“What we thought we needed to do was connect the dots a little better, to be even more deliberate and make it easier for students to think about their destination and the path to get there,” Augustana President Steve Bahls said.

Augustana Provost Pareena Lawrence added, “Our goal in launching CORE is to ensure that every student has the opportunity to participate in learning experiences that help them discover their purpose and passions, and connect them to their career aspirations.”

In launching CORE, Augustana has more than tripled the number of career development staff from four to 13. Leading the professional preparation efforts, Dr. Michael Edmondson, associate vice president of career development, came from The Philadelphia Center to Augustana in June after an extensive nationwide search.

“We have more support for students and young alumni than, I would argue, almost any liberal arts college in the nation,” Dr. Edmondson said.

He cited a recent Money magazine analysis of college career services that looked at the number of career staffers per student. The national average is 1.4 staff per 1,000 students. Augustana’s ratio is 5.2 per 1,000.

One unique tool for preparing students for success is the Viking Score, which students will use to track their level of professional preparation for careers and graduate school. Students will be encouraged to accumulate a certain number of points each year by meeting with career development staff, launching a LinkedIn account and attending workshops, to name a few ways.

The various components that make up the Viking Score were developed through backward design and are data-driven. The concept of the score is based on research and data the Office of Career Development has compiled both nationally and from our recent graduates. The Viking Score points current students to the accomplishments that young alumni and employers say will best prepare them for their first jobs or graduate school.

In addition to career preparation, the college has renewed the emphasis on advising and added a new director of advising in CORE.

“Our advisors feel a strong sense of responsibility toward their advisees,” said Dr. Kristin Douglas, associate dean of student success. “Our CORE offices will support advisors so that they do not have to be experts in study abroad, internships, research opportunities or career development.”

Dr. Edmondson plans to survey students who use CORE to see how it’s working.

“In a few months, I hope people will say, ‘Wow, this has really changed the way I look at career development and the way I use college resources. Augustana’s got a renewed commitment to help me.’”

The addition of CORE comes on the heels of Augie Choice’s introduction in 2009, a program that financially helps students to participate in experiential learning opportunities, and the addition of Symposium Days, which began in 2012 as a way for the entire campus community to learn about issues from a variety of academic perspectives.

For more information, pleast contact Sam Schlouch, director of public relations, at (309) 794-7833.

About Augustana:

Founded in 1860, Augustana College is a selective four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences. Augustana is recognized for the innovative program Augie Choice, which provides each student up to $2,000 to pursue a high-impact learning experience such as study abroad, an internship or research with a professor. Current students and alumni include 153 Academic All-Americans, a Nobel laureate, 13 college presidents and other distinguished leaders. The college enrolls 2,500 students and is located along one of the world’s most important waterways, the Mississippi River, in a community that reflects the diversity of the United States.