Getting SET for graduation

RMU%27s+new+Engaged+Learning+Advisor%2C+Terri+Byrnes%2C+welcomes+questions+from+students+about+the+SET+graduation+requirements.

Kelly Joy

RMU’s new Engaged Learning Advisor, Terri Byrnes, welcomes questions from students about the SET graduation requirements.

Andrea Zanaglio, News Editor

In May 2013, the class of 2013 will be the first RMU students to graduate with the Student Engagement Transcript (SET) as a requirement, prompting efforts to make students more aware of these requirements.

Starting with the freshmen class of 2009, including online only students, RMU students are required to fulfill two of the first six categories listed on their SET. Those categories include arts, culture and creativity, transcultural/global experiences, undergraduate research, service, leadership and professional experience.

The seventh category is dedicated to special recognition, special projects and participation, serving as a supplement to the first six.

This past fall semester, according to Dean of Engaged Learning, Shari Payne, the minimum SET requirements were also expanded to undergraduate transfer students.

Students can find detailed information and even view their current SET online at http://www.rmu.edu/getset after signing in through the Sentry Secured Services. Information is also regularly posted on the office’s Facebook page, Rmu Set.

For now, students must submit a SET Activity Approval form, which can be printed out from their website, to Engaged Learning Advisor, Terri Byrnes, at [email protected] to have activities included on their SET.

Payne said the IT department is currently working on an electronic process for the approval forms to be submitted in order to speed up the process.

In the past, SETs have been updated yearly, but Byrnes said she hopes to be able to update them at the end of each semester when the new electronic submission is implemented sometime next spring.

Despite all of this information online, Class of 2014 Vice President, Jeff Siwik, finds many students, including himself, unaware of what exactly is involved with the SET requirements.

“From my perspective, a lot of sophomores aren’t really fully aware of how the SET works and what the SET can do for them,” he said.

In an effort to make students more aware, Siwik, with the help of the Student Life Office, is in the process of organizing an information session on the SET that will include speakers from each required category to speak about opportunities available to complete the requirements.

Siwik plans to have the session take place sometime before the end of this semester, so students can start getting involved and work on their SET in the spring.

“I think [students are unaware of the SET requirements] because it’s really only described in the first week, and in the first week, there’s so much else going on . . . that the SET is really just another thing to learn,” explained Siwik.

Byrnes, who began working as the engaged learning advisor in June 2011, agrees that more needs to be done to make students aware throughout their time at RMU.

She recently sent out letters to students of the 2013 class about the requirements they are currently missing on their SETs, and she is planning several information sessions that include a step-by-step process for completing the SET and a question and answer section.

“We’re doing the outreach a full two years ahead so that we know that students are going to have enough time to complete these requirements by the time they graduate,” explained Payne. “We’re confident with our outreach efforts.”

While having a second transcript may seem redundant to some students, both Payne and Byrnes believe it gives students an edge over others because it shows more than what one can fit on a resume.

“Besides having the actual Student Engagement Transcript that documents these extracurricular experiences, the student benefits from the experiences themselves. It might push the student out of his/her comfort zone to participate in some activity that he/she would not normally do,” added Byrnes.

In 2007, the SET Advisory Board, which includes 20 people from each student service office and each school on campus, was formed to create a co-curricular transcript that President Gregory Dell’Omo wanted RMU students to have to supplement their academic transcript, explained Payne.

After the pilot program in 2008, it was made mandatory of all students. Being one of very few schools with a SET, RMU has garnered national attention.

Payne stated that after doing an interview with Inside Higher Ed and the Recruitment and Retention newsletter in 2009, she was contacted by universities and colleges across the country.

While Payne offers her advice to other universities and colleges that contact her about the SET, she hopes to eventually expand the interest with a webinar or on campus conference.

“We have some plans going forward to really put our stamp on it,” she stated.

 

Were you aware of the SET requirements? What do you think can be done to make students more aware of these requirements? Tell us in the comment section!