A Message from Dean Shepardson
I hope this weekly check-in finds you well. For those of you who have been celebrating holidays over the past week, I am sure that your family, like mine, has been working hard to create some new traditions.
On college campuses, April is a month full of traditions. Typically, we spend these weeks commending students at awards banquets, cheering performers and athletes at final appearances on the stage or the field, learning about months of research at year-end presentations and events, and, of course, celebrating another successful semester at Bentley’s annual Spring Day concert. Many of these traditions build on student engagement outside of the classroom. This year, activities are still occurring virtually. Our teams, organizations and student government are still holding weekly meetings, and advisors and coaches are connecting individually with students.
At Bentley, we believe this co-curricular learning is essential to our place-based residential education model. We believe that learning should not only be part of the “Up Top” (the top of the hill where classes occur) experience in the classroom, but instead, woven throughout the student experience. Experiential learning is our hallmark, and students gain competencies and confidence through these opportunities.
Of course, it can be harder in this virtual environment. But at the same time, this time at home can be an opportunity to take some time to reflect on what students (and families) expect from this campus experience and make plans for engaging more the future.
Here are some suggestions to think about:
Ask your student to get (or stay) engaged this semester.
- There is still time! These opportunities to connect are as important now as when we are on campus (and this includes for our seniors).
- Our Student Programs & Engagement (SP&E) staff have been working diligently to develop a series of virtual programs, development workshops and connection opportunities for your students. As always, their goal is to encourage an active community of leaders and learners.
- Events include Student Leader elections for next year, a weekly “Let’s Get Quizzical” trivia series, and the continuation of our Student Org Challenge with virtual webinars and online training opportunities available for student organization leaders. Please help encourage your students to join these activities (trivia is tonight at 9!).
Encourage your student to set up their own connections with their peers.
- This can be a study group rooted in academics or a group chat with other students that they might see in their residence halls or at lunch. A chance to connect throughout the day is important.
For seniors, help them create closure on this time of their lives.
- On campus, we would usually have events that help students reflect and put into perspective this important time of their lives. While many of these events will happen virtually, there are others that are not able to go forward.
- Remind your students that their NEST mentor is here to help. We also know that stress and anxiety can be relieved through validation and acknowledgement. Let your senior know that you understand how difficult this must be for them and assure them that we are here for them if they have any questions or concerns.
For students returning in the fall, help them explore.
- Start discussions about how they can take full advantage of a residential education environment when we are able to return to campus. There are some students that have taken full advantage of opportunities and may need some help refining and refocusing. Others may not have taken advantage of all that we have to offer yet. Now is a great time to reframe the collegiate experience.
- Again, our NEST mentors are a great resources to have students start discussing their plans for the fall.
- For more information about SP&E's virtual engagement plans and to see how our students are participating in these programs, please visit www.bentleySPEak.com or follow them on Instagram at @bentley_spe.
Again, thank you for your support and know that we are here for you if need us. Next week, our last full week of classes, I will share some thoughts from the Pulsifer Career Development Center on helping students think about internships and jobs.
J. Andrew Shepardson
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students