Pfeiffer’s new co-curricular program, Pfeiffer Life, has officially launched and is flying high and on course. Now past its pilot semester, the program has set the ideals of Pfeiffer’s educators into motion.
Alongside academic studies, participation in enriching events and activities outside the classroom has always been an essential ingredient of a Pfeiffer education. Throughout Pfeiffer’s long history, a co-curricular graduation requirement has always existed, though it undergoes reinvention and a name change from time to time.
When the Pfeiffer faculty decided it was time to revitalize the long-standing Cultural Credit program, the opportunity to create a new chapter in Pfeiffer’s story developed. Under the leadership of Dr. Deborah Burris, faculty and instructional staff collaborated to define what the ideal co-curricular program should look like for today’s student. In the fall semester of 2018, the new program launched, called Pfeiffer Life.
In the Pfeiffer Life program, students take part in activities and events in six distinct categories:
- Appreciation of the Arts
- Global/Cultural Awareness
- Mental/Physical/Spiritual Wellness
- Pfeiffer Pride and Tradition
- Purpose and Career Preparation
- Servant Leadership
Students earn four points in each category to obtain all six Pfeiffer Life badges, thus completing their graduation requirement. The points are called “engagement points,” emphasis on engagement. One of the most vital components of the Pfeiffer Life program is the importance placed on engagement during an event rather than attendance alone. Receiving credit for a simple check-in no longer applies. After the activity or event, students submit an online reflection about their experience, answering questions that guide them through a process to internalize what they experienced on a deeper level. In some ways, the Pfeiffer Life program asks more from students than previous programs. Therefore, the program strives first to inspire rather than require.
Inspiration comes in many forms, allowing for a wide variety of activities and events in the Pfeiffer Life program. Experiences that qualify for points in the program vary by time, logistics, and level of involvement. The numerous opportunities to earn an engagement point are not comparable to each other in the way of apples-to-apples as much as apples to, well, meditating.
In an activity called “Mindfulness and Meditation,” led by University Chaplain, Maegan Habich, students can earn one engagement point by attending three meditation classes and completing one reflection on the entire experience. Students could also receive an engagement point by gardening for a few hours in the Hunger Relief Garden, part of the Francis Center for Servant Leadership. Another way a student could earn a Pfeiffer Life engagement point is to participate in the “Color Run.” Led by Dr. Sherri Adams, the Color Run is a race which culminates in a celebratory shower of colored powder, a truly enchanting and unconventional method of being decorated for an achievement.
Besides expanding the assortment of activities and events in the program, the six Pfeiffer Life categories allow incorporation of elements that are crucial to today’s college student. A student may earn an engagement point in the category of Purpose and Career Preparation by attending the valuable workshops sponsored by Caroline Sawyer which train students in resume creation, cover letters, and the many useful nuances of LinkedIn.
Pfeiffer Life also integrates activities and events that would not have been eligible for the co-curricular program in the past. This integration is especially the case in the category of Servant Leadership. Students who may not be personally motivated to participate in valuable experiences like the ones sponsored by the Francis Center find that by pursuing their Servant Leadership engagement points, they discover a new realm of enriching experiences, inspiring personal growth, and character development.
The category of Pfeiffer Pride and Tradition may prove over time to be one of the most cherished by alumni. Events and activities that qualify for this category stir the sense of custom, support, and belonging that is fundamental to being part of the Pfeiffer Pfamily. From ceremonies such as Opening Convocation, a musical jam by the Pfeiffer faculty/staff band, Brain Trust, there are in numerous instances where students experience something distinctive to “Pfeiffer.” Having moments like these count toward the Pride and Tradition badge reinforces the value of belonging to the Pfeiffer community and reminds students to stop every once in a while and soak it in.
The pilot semester of Pfeiffer Life proved to be encouraging. Event coordinators were pleased to find that the students’ reflections were not only enjoyable to read but provided valuable feedback. At the end of the reflection survey, students answer questions on how likely they would be to recommend the activity or event for the future. Out of almost 1200 reflections, 70% of the ratings indicated “definitely,” 25% “likely,” and 4% “not sure,” leaving both the options of “probably not” and “definitely not” at less than 1% each.
The co-curricular program, Pfeiffer Life, is an essential part of the Pfeiffer Journey, the four-year program that guides the overall student experience at Pfeiffer University. After finishing the Pfeiffer Life program, the expectation is that students will be better prepared to pursue their next out-of-the-classroom endeavors, such as micro-credentialing opportunities, which can provide students with valuable skills that will enhance their resumes and benefit them in their careers after graduation.
Pfeiffer Life is underway with promising results right off the starting block. Even so, faculty, staff, and students have the opportunity to provide regular input and feedback through the open dialogue approach of the organizational structure put in place by Dr. Burris. In this way, the program’s continual improvement is encouraged, and it will ensure that the newest model of Pfeiffer’s co-curricular tradition will have long-lasting success.