Learning Beyond the Classroom: Robert Morris University Learning Beyond the Classroom | Robert Morris University

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BY VALENTINE J. BRKICH

When Kiersten Metzger '13 graduates in May and starts searching for a teaching position, she knows the competition will be fierce. But she's not worried. In her time here at Robert Morris University, Metzger, who is president of her class, has built a solid record of engagement as a first-year studies mentor for three years, secretary and media coordinator of the Claddagh Club, historian and secretary for Kappa Delta Rho, and a Colonial Ambassador.

And it’s all being documented on her Student Engagement Transcript.

My S.E.T. will enable employers to see how active I was in school," she says. "It will show them that I work well with others, that I'm not afraid to try new things, and that I'm a hard worker, too. It's a valuable companion piece to my resume."

RMU has always tried to give students like Metzger educational opportunities that go beyond the walls of the classroom; ways for them to get their hands dirty, try things outside of their comfort zone, and have real, tangible experiences that will benefit them after graduation. It wasn't until 2009, however, that the university developed its Student Engagement Program to officially document and mandate these experiences so that students would have something to show employers down the road. It's a philosophy that underlies RMU's mission to change its students' lives.

Through the program, students' leadership roles, community service hours, international study trips, and internships are officially documented on this second transcript. Students must fulfill requirements in at least two of six categories: Arts, Culture, and Creativity; Global Experience; Undergraduate Research; Service; Leadership; and Professional Experience. This year's graduating class is the first for whom participation in the program was a requirement for graduation.

Matthew Feryus '11 is a graduate of the actuarial science program. "The Student Engagement Transcript conveyed the amount and variety of my extracurricular involvement at Robert Morris, and it enabled me to emphasize my professional achievements on my resume," says Feryus, who works for Florida Blue in Jacksonville and was recently named an associate of the Society of Actuaries. He included his S.E.T. while applying for the John Culver Wooddy Scholarship, which gives preference to candidates who demonstrate leadership potential through their extracurricular activities. "I really believe it helped me receive that scholarship," he says.

Shari Payne, Ed.D., is dean of engaged learning at the university. She continuously looks for new experiential opportunities, working closely with students to give them access to the out-of-the-classroom experiences that are part of an RMU education. "Our Student Engagement Program is invaluable to our students," says Payne. "The S.E.T. is an important companion piece to their resume and a real draw to potential students," says Payne. "They understand that employers want people who are well-rounded and aren't afraid to try new things."

One such employer is Susan M. Suver, vice president of human resources at U.S. Steel Corp., which has long been a supporter of RMU and its students. "Today, many employers are focused on selecting extremely well-rounded individuals as they recruit from college campuses," says Suver, a member of the university's Board of Trustees. "While strong academic performance in an academic major will continue to be very important, more frequently employers are also looking at community service, students with work experience including internships and co-op experiences, and those with involvement in extracurricular activities such as sports, arts and music, special projects, and student leadership. That's what makes RMU's Student Engagement Transcript so valuable."

And for students like Metzger, having an official, university-endorsed record of their involvement is just another advantage they'll have as they enter the job market. "There are a lot of people applying for the same positions as me," she says. "So having the S.E.T. sent along with my transcripts will definitely give me an advantage."

WEB EXCLUSIVE!
Are you Engaged? 
The Student Engagement Transcript at Robert Morris University is a unique feature documenting students' achievements outside the classroom.

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