A campus wide co-curriculum allows administrators to identify critical co-curricular involvement opportunities or learning outcomes and guide students through these experiences. The co-curriculum itself is usually organized based on the university’s mission, values, or divisional learning outcomes, with the goal of exposing students to various competencies or developmental concepts.

Developing a co-curriculum often involves a great deal of collaboration to identify themes of interest and the events or experiences that should make up the path. These paths can also involve significant rewards and incentives for students. Each of our examples in this article is unique to the institution's culture and needs, but they share a commitment to guiding students through a thoughtful and developmental college experience. In this article, we outline the approaches of three different campuses and highlight the unique aspects of the paths they have developed.

"The Clarke Compass" at Clarke University 

Clarke University is a private, liberal arts college in Dubuque, Iowa. The Clarke Compass is a truly unique co-curricular path, successfully integrating in-and-out of classroom experiences to create a holistic pathway for student development. Housed in the office of Compass and Career Services, the path is advertised to students as a way to organize and track all of their important collegiate experiences, integrating coursework, extra-curricular and co-curricular offerings while building tangible skills employers hope to see. The Clarke Compass is an institution-wide effort, emphasizing both student and academic affairs, making it unique among paths as that kind of collaboration is not always easy to achieve! Compass is also unique because it is a mandatory requirement of all students; students must complete the requirements of the path before graduation.

The path's domains and learning outcomes are based on the history and tradition of the institution, rooted in the institution's overarching values called the Common Good. In their words, "The goal is to always maintain and strengthen the good our societies achieve and to work toward a universal civilization of love, justice and peace." Clarke has integrated this mentality into the path, encouraging students to seek the Common Good through their holistic college experience. The eight outcomes of the path are defined below:

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A best practice path, Clarke's integration of institutional values as the building blocks of the path is a practice we strongly encourage when developing a campus-wide co-curriculum.

We particularly love this path for its cohesiveness and comprehensiveness, and admire how it has successfully bridged academic and student affairs to create one experience for students. As an example, one of the items in the path is to "Complete an Approved Diversity Course" as part of the completion criteria for the "Intercultural Engagement" domain. Upon the close of an academic semester, the registrar's office delivers the names of those who have completed a diversity course to the Compass office, which then gives path credit to the students. Strong communication and collaborative ties between academic and student affairs allow this path to flourish.

Compass is designed to formally recognize the holistic experience of Clarke University students and constitutes a distinctive asset for its graduates. Upon completion of their degree, Clarke students will have a record of academic achievement, personal growth, engagement in the world beyond themselves, and awareness of their role in their community. Thus, Compass is more than a signature student experience; Compass is the starting point for the graduate’s life and career pursuits. The path is managed specifically by one administrator whose primary role at the institution is to manage Compass.  

Check out Clarke's resources on The Clarke Compass for more information.

"CWC" at Brock University  

The Campus-Wide Co-Curriculum (CWC) at Brock University is a multi-year path designed to help students enhance their understanding of themselves and their world through extra-curricular and co-curricular experiences. Students are automatically enrolled in the path, making adoption for students simple. The ten domains in the CWC were selected because they represent skills that employers increasingly expect from university graduates. While rooted in a career readiness perspective, the overarching goal of the path is that students would enhance their own personal growth and make the most of their time at Brock.

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There are around 120 possible items; students must complete 68 before graduation to complete the path. Students also have the opportunity to earn certificates and awards through their participation. For every completed domain, students earn an insignia on their Campus-Wide Co-Curriculum Certificate of Engagement. This recognition is also be tracked on the Experience Plus Transcript (Brock's Co-Curricular Record) in the Professional Development section. 

First-Year Experience Track

As a new student, getting started with a multi-year co-curriculum might seem like an overwhelming task. That's why we love Brock's strategic development of a "First Year Experience Track" for the path. This track breaks down all of the items and tasks in the path into 21 experiences that are easily attainable by first-year students and include many tasks they are probably already doing!

Emphasis on Reflection

One noteworthy aspect of the Brock CWC is the emphasis on student reflection. Reflection is a key component of any learning experience. Students must complete a reflection at the end of each domain with the objective that students get more from their experiences and that they will be able to clearly communicate their accomplishments and skills to future employers. In addition, the CWC includes a Pre-Curriculum Reflection at the beginning of the curriculum and a capstone Post-Curriculum reflection at that end once a student has completed all 10 domains, or as many as they intend to complete before they graduate. This reflection-focus requires students to more deeply consider the impact of their experiences and provides administrators greater depth of qualitative data about students' experience in the path.

Read more about Brock's Campus-Wide Co-Curriculum.

"Mines Advantage" at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

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We love the branding that Mines has done around the Mines Advantage path! Each learning outcome/domain has a specific icon that makes it recognizable on campus flyers or posters. They even provide links to these logos on their website. 

Within each domain, there are two required items and students must choose three optional items to complete as well. For each domain, there is also the option for students to self-report an additional activity that may not be listed in the initial criteria, allowing flexibility in the process as students forge their own collegiate experience. There are over 100 possible items that can be completed to fulfill this path. View a few examples of the items tied to the "Cultural and Global Inclusion" domain below:

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Incentivizing Participation

Mines has done a great job with creating incentives around the program. Of course, there are many intangible benefits to participating in the path, such as becoming more well-rounded, future recognition by potential employers, and building a strong resume. Mines has also created an incentive program based on how much of the program has been completed. At orientation, students are introduced to the program and receive a pen. At 25% complete, a drawing is held for items such as University apparel, resume paper, and tickets to community and/or campus events. At 50% complete, students receive a pin of the Mines Advantage logo that can be worn during career fairs, interviews, and conferences. Students will also receive business cards that they may hand out at career fairs and other interactions with employers. At 75% complete, three randomly drawn students receive a SDSM&T padfolio. Students who complete 100% of the path receive a certificate and recognition at the leadership awards reception. They are in the process of developing a format for additional recognition at graduation ceremonies.

Not every campus co-curriculum must be completed in full. The campus co-curriculum can also act as a general guide or support to students navigating campus. Mines Advantage encourages students towards significant learning experiences across campus, but rewards students each step of the way as they get more involved rather than saving just one prize for the very end. This method also provides administrators with more data than they might get if there were only one ultimate reward. While many students might stop at 50% or 75% of path completion, administrators can use that data to see which events and experiences are most attractive to students over time.

Read more about Mines Advantage.

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