By Eric Kang
When I was in undergrad, I used to tell my friends that I was working towards two degrees, one in psychobiology and another in co-curricular activities. My friends would laugh because they knew exactly what I meant about the latter degree, understanding my high level of involvement at the university in various student activities. I would make this joke quite often, even when I was introducing myself to people I was meeting for the first time. I think deep down I felt that if I continued to repeat the joke out loud, I would eventually speak it into existence. What if there was a way for the university to officially validate my co-curricular experiences? What if there was a way for me to easily document and showcase my involvements and achievements? Fast forward three years and here I am at Michigan State University, actively working on the very same questions.
The Co-Curricular Record (CCR) is a comprehensive system designed to track and validate the non-credit learning experiences happening outside of the classroom. These activities can include but are not limited to: leadership positions in registered student organizations, volunteer/service activities, or undergraduate research. For co-curricular activity providers and administrators, this system can provide a way to manage information which might reveal trends in participation and lead to ways to improve their programs. This coming Fall 2018, we are excited to launch a limited beta release of the Co-Curricular Record at Michigan State. The pilot program will have 10-15 campus partners involved, with activities spanning across areas of leadership development, undergraduate research, service learning, and internships. This implementation will provide insightful information on how administrators understand the general workflow of validating an activity on the CCR, suggestions for further trainings, and opportunities to troubleshoot any technical components in the system. Ultimately, the pilot phase will generate critical information for us to apply towards the final model of the CCR.
Moving forward, I see the greatest value of a co-curricular record for students. As a graduate student studying Student Affairs Administration here at MSU, I am always thinking about student-centered practices and ways I can best support student learning and development. The Co-Curricular Record is a tool for students to organize their involvements and reflect on their learning experiences. Since each activity in the system will be connected with specific learning outcomes and competency areas designated by the activity providers, students will be able to articulate exactly what skills they are developing through their involvement. Moving forward, students can utilize this information and apply it to future job applications, personal statements, interviews, and more.
Reflecting on my time as a practicum student working at the Hub and on the Co-Curricular Record, I can confidently say that the experience has been fruitful and fulfilling. Moving forward as a student affairs professional, I can imagine having developmental conversations about students’ co-curricular involvements and using their Co-Curricular Record as a jumping off point. Additionally, I can picture academic advisors using the Co-Curricular Record in advising appointments as a way to connect students’ coursework to their different involvements. And by capturing co-curricular activities across all parts of campus and various dimensions of involvement, we can develop a sense of unity and bring together a community as large as MSU. And as students engage with the record and continue to add their involvements over time, they are both learning from and contributing to this larger picture.
I always thought it would be amazing for an institution to highlight the meaningful work students were engaging outside the classroom, and the Co-Curricular Record is a tool to accomplish such an endeavor. Overall, the Co-Curricular Record is an important project and I am so humbled to have been a part of the initiative. As we move further along the development process and pilot implementation, I look forward to continuing these conversations. Stay tuned.