The Office of Student Life at U of T held town hall meetings on all three campuses to solicit input and answer questions from the U of T community about the development of the Co-Curricular Record, expected to be made available to students in September.
The UTM town hall was held last Thursday in the Kaneff Centre with less than 10 people in attendance. Dale Mullings, the director of residence and student sife at UTM, and Kimberly Elias, the program coordinator of the CCR initiative at the Office of Student Life at St. George, led the one-hour town hall.
The CCR is an official U of T document that recognizes students’ involvement in extracurricular activities. Students can link the skills they gain from each activity with those that employers and graduate schools look for.
Elias, who spoke for the majority of the town hall, said that the intent of the CCR is to “encourage involvement while acknowledging barriers to participation”. This relates to one of the questions asked at the focus groups held last December: “What are barriers to your participation in extracurricular activities?”
“The CCR helps you see the connection between engagement and the skills you are developing,” said Elias. “It helps you market your experiences and skills to employers and graduate and professional school programs.”
Elias presented the criteria for the activities to be included in the CCR. Among other criteria, activities must meet the validation process and involve active engagement and a reflection component, whereby participants reflect on the competencies they developed.
The quality of the engagement is important, according to Elias. “We want each of these activities to be valuable,” she said. “If it becomes a list of every single thing you did, it will be a 30-page list no one wants to look at.”
Activities on the CCR must also be affiliated with U of T, so community-based activities may not be counted. For example, volunteer work with the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship program would not make it into the record unless it was done through U of T’s own BBBS program. Mullings addressed questions at the end of the presentation. People wanted clarification on who would have the ability to validate a student’s participation in a particular activity. Mullings made it clear that only U of T employees would be able to validate participation at this stage in the development of the CCR. In an early phase, students gave feedback to the CCR coordinators saying that they would rather not have the ability to validate activities, as it would make it possible for people to ask their friends to validate them even if they have not participated in the activity, devaluing the records of those who actually put in the work.
The goal is to include all valid activities in the CCR, which could mean tweaking an activity so that it will match the criteria of a recognized activity, said Elias. This could mean adding a reflection component to activities that do not already include one.
The CCR will not be retrospective—that is, activities that students participated in before the 2013/14 year will not be included in the record. Activities that students participated in before that will not be included. However, Mullings said, students’ résumés will suffice to reflect participation in extracurricular activities from before the launch of the CCR, which is designed to complement a résumé and official transcript.
The CCR will be available to both undergraduate and graduate students.