One of the initiatives we’re exploring at William and Mary is a student fellowship program where students will work closely with faculty on technology related projects. Our goal is to create opportunities for students to work closely with faculty in ways that are directly tied to teaching or scholarship. We see this program as providing substantial learning experiences for students, as well as sources of income for them.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, other institutions are seeing the value in helping to change the culture of student jobs to more meaningful work. One of the most aggressive of these has been at Rhodes College.
At the same time, conversations with older alumni revealed that many remembered campus jobs as essential learning experiences. Current students, on the other hand, often felt their talents were being wasted on menial tasks.
Meaningful jobs that require substantial amount of flexibility and learning can be an important factor in making our campuses more engaging for students. It’s worth taking at look at other places where we might be able to stretch students’ horizons by involving them in authentic work of the university.