News MARLBORO FRESHMAN ORIENTATION NAMED NASPA 2008 VERMONT PROGRAM OF THE YEAR
Marlboro, VT - (October 28, 2008) - The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) honored Marlboro College's "Bridges" program for first year and transfer students as the Vermont Program of the Year for 2008.
NASPA is the foremost professional association for student affairs administrators, faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students, with over 11,000 members at 1,400 campuses, and representing 29 countries. Each year, NASPA Excellence Awards recognize the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services, and effective administration.
Bridges succeeds Marlboro's 18-year long "Woods" program, which consisted of student-led camping trips focused on outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking or rock-climbing. Marlboro's dean of students, Dr. Ken Schneck, says that Woods was a valuable program for those that participated, but several factors prevented almost half of each year's incoming class from taking part, including cost, timing or lack of interest in camping.
"Woods participants came back from their trips bonded, excited and confident, all of which contribute to a successful transition into college," says Schneck. "Further research into our retention rates indicated a strong correlation between students who left the college in the first semester and those who were ‘Non-Woods.'"
To create Bridges, Marlboro's Orientation committee put out a call to the Marlboro College and surrounding community to create some non-camping options. New programs included cooking, writing and bookmaking, a trip to the Montreal Film Festival and a full-scale art collective that was exhibited in the college's Drury Gallery during September. In addition, a member of Marlboro's board of trustees approved full funding for the program, which for the first time eliminated cost as a barrier for student participation.
Schneck cautions that retention rates cannot be fully analyzed for a few years, but initial data shows a marked reduction in the number of students who would have normally left Marlboro at this point in the semester. On a follow-up survey with participants, 88 percent agreed Bridges was a great way to start their Marlboro experience, with 92 percent agreeing the trip helped them bond with fellow incoming students.
Political theory professor Meg Mott participated in a trip entitled, "La Vida Local: How to eat well, save the planet, and keep your neighbors in work." She says the student's social connections helped them manage the stress of the classroom experience, where first years students sit alongside juniors and seniors.
"In the past, new students have been so anxious about fitting in that they don't listen to their own ideas. This year, the new students offered dissenting opinions. They even questioned certain cultural assumptions on campus. The older students were taken aback. No one had ever asked them to justify these things before. The result, in terms of discussion, was fabulous," says Mott.
Planning for 2009 Bridges excursions are already underway, says Schneck, with the goal of staying true to the values of personal attention, individuality and personal responsibility that characterize the Marlboro community.
For more information, please contact the Marlboro College Public Relations office at 802-251-7644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marlboro College offers undergraduate education in the liberal arts and, since 1997, graduate study focused on Internet technologies. Its 330 undergraduate students enjoy an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community and individualized courses of study on a 300 acre campus in the hills of southern Vermont.