Senior Scholars Day and the “Big Six”
In 2015, Sean Seymour and Shane Lopez published, “Big Six” College Experiences Linked to Life Preparedness, which was the product of an extensive research initiative between Gallup and Purdue University. The study identified six specific experiences during one’s college education that are linked to strong engagement in work and to general happiness in adult life.
Having spent my career in student-centered, residential institutions, it is hard to imagine that these experiences are not more commonplace in higher education. These are the experiences and the percentage of respondents who strongly agreed that they had them:
Had at least one professor who made me excited about learning. 63%
Professors cared about me as a person. 27%
Had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams. 22%
All Three Supports 14%
Worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete. 32%
Had an internship or job that applied what I was learning in the classroom 29%
Was extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations 20%
All Three Experientials 6%
All Six 3%
For each experience, the study revealed a multiplying effect on later engagement and happiness. When combined, the overall impact greatly exceeded the sum of the individual effects. Only 3% of respondents indicated that they strongly agreed to having had all six experiences.
Today, Susquehanna celebrated Senior Scholars Day, an event we have held for over 30 years. It is a showcase of undergraduate scholarship, research, and creative work. Over 150 students presented at the event, which is a third of our graduates. As I toured the posters and listened to presentations, I was struck by the very high percentage of our students whom I know have had all six experiences in spades.
I am proud of the remarkable accomplishments of our students and for the diversity and quality of their work. I am prouder still of the thoughtfulness and dedication of my colleagues for developing an educational program that is so carefully focused on the development of our students for success beyond graduation. What have recently been identified as best practices nationally have been habits here for decades.