Student engagement tops college, student priorities; Flagler responds

By Haley M. Walker |

“Most Involved” used to be a title held only by someone considered a nerd. However, this title is becoming much more desired on college campuses around the nation.

Colleges are not only being ranked today by academic standards or by the population of attending students, but are now being evaluated by the amount of students participating in cultural and academic features of their school.

According to a recent article in USA Today, The National Survey of Student Engagement is offering an alternative way for prospective students to look at colleges and a different way for schools around the nation to be ranked.

Both freshman and senior students are chosen from the 275 participating colleges and questioned about the level of engagement they feel with their schools based on five specific characteristics.

According to the article by Mary Beth Marklein in USA Today, the five levels or “benchmarks” include level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment. The results found from the questioning are then used to rank colleges by the level of engagement that the school provides to its students.

Many colleges were found to be specializing in special types of student engagement. According to another USA Today article, Appalachian State University is said to provide a great amount of small learning communities, while Winthrop University is found to have a great number of students participating in co-curricular and cultural activities. Elon University and University of Dayton were found to be schools that emphasized student writing.

While Flagler College is one of the colleges participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement survey, it was not part the USA Today article. Still, a noticeable amount of activities have begun to emerge this semester, and consequently students have become more involved.

Emily Upchurch, Director of Student Activities, says there are several reasons why more students may be taking part in the events of the college.

“I think that having a mass e-mail to students that keeps everyone informed of what’s happening on campus is a great way for clubs and organizations to reach the entire student body,” Upchurch said. “I think that the addition of the Ringhaver Student Center to campus has been a great addition to campus life this year as well, giving clubs a place to have meetings and hold events.”

Dean of Student Services, Daniel P. Stewart, said that he is happy to see more effort on students’ parts to become involved.

“I personally love seeing more activities for the students,” Stewart said. “I would say that this group of new students appears to be more interested in becoming involved not just in clubs and groups but also with attending the various events taking place.”

Students at Flagler also believe involvement has its importance.

“I think that being involved ties kids further to the school,” junior Ryan McCarthy said. “Being involved builds teamwork skills and gets you connections with faculty and other members of the community.”

The new clubs that have made their presence available at the college include Club Oye, Archeology Club and Club Unity. Many new events have also taken place. These include a Thanksgiving canned food drive, many political speakers, visiting authors, several dances and movie nights on campus.

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