SOAR for Parents Presented by Dean Haik

SOAR for Parents Presented by Dean Haik


Hi, everyone. I’m Kristi Haik. I’m Dean of the College of Arts
and Sciences at Ferris State University. Today, I want to talk to
you about Project S3OAR and what you and
your students are going to be doing for
the next four years and how you can help
them be successful. First thing I want to talk
to you about the leadership team of Project SOAR. These are the folks
that your students will be dealing the most with. First, we have Dr.
Hengli Jian, who’s a professor in mathematics. You can see me in the middle,
Dean of Arts and Sciences. I’m also a biology professor. And finally we have
Mr. Brent Williams, who is a welding professor
in the College of Engineering Technology. So depending on what
your student’s major is will determine who they
work with the most. So let’s talk about the
goal of Project SOAR. As I mentioned earlier, it’s
funded by the National Science Foundation. And the purpose is to recruit,
retain, educate, and graduate STEM students with
financial need. How do we do that? First of all, we want
to attract talent. We want to attract
the best STEM students we can from across the state. We are going to create
opportunities for them. I’m going to talk specifically
about those opportunities in a few minutes. And finally, we want to
help them sustain success. We’re going to talk about
ways that they can sustain their success, and we’re
going to talk about ways that you can help them as well. So the great news about
this is that it works. How do we know it works? This is actually the third
time that this project has been done. It’s the first time it’s
been done at Ferris State University. So what are the metrics
that we use to determine that it actually works? We look at, first of
all, retention rates. Retention means
success students have from getting through the
first year to making it into the second. SOAR students have a first year
retention rate of about 90%, while other students have
a first year retention rate usually less than 70%. Second of all, we look
at graduation rate. But specifically, I mean
graduation rate in four years because that’s our goal. And I know it’s your goal. You want your students
in and out in four years. So SOAR students have
a 52% graduation rate. Now, before you
say, whoa, only 52%, understand that
everybody else has around a 17% graduation rate. So SOAR students are
incredibly successful. And when we go out to five
and six years, what we find is at least 80% of our
SOAR scholars graduate. So how do we help you and
your students be successful? Well, we certainly
don’t do this alone. I have an acronym
written up here that’s going to help me remember
all of the different components of Project SOAR,
and it’s also one of the ways that
helped me be successful all through my education. First of all, living
learning communities. So part of the living
learning community means your student
is going to live in the same wing in North Hall
as the other SOAR scholars. They’re also going
to be involved in an FSUS 100 class, which is
also related to the freshman seminar. So they all will spend at
least one class together in that first semester. We also know that
some of the students will be in what we call
mini-learning communities. So four or five biology students
will be in the same lecture. They’ll also be in the same lab. And what this does is it
creates a fantastic community. A stands for advisor. Students will have their
own professional advisor. They will be advisors
in the colleges, and they will also be faculty
members that they work closely with, ensuring
that the student is on the path to getting the kind
of job that they want to get. C stands for co-curriculum
opportunities. So what do we do outside
of the classroom? We’re going to talk a
little bit more about that, but it has to do with clubs and
honor societies and other kinds of opportunities that lend to
education in that discipline. As I mentioned earlier, F
stands for freshman seminar. E stands for
entrepreneurship education. It doesn’t matter
if your student’s interested in the idea
of entrepreneurship. We know that students
who have STEM degrees make the best entrepreneurs. And what we’re looking
at in Project SOAR is opening the world to them. It’s not just about STEM. It’s about what are the
other things that they can pair with STEM to
make them successful? And our previous work has shown
that entrepreneurship education is fantastic. And finally is
the career aspect. All of the students, be it in
their first or second semester, will have shadowing experiences. This is actually a major
part of the program. The shadowing experiences are
between four and eight hours, and it will happen three times. We like the students to go to
a couple different companies where they can find out what
it’s like to work in industry. And we also want
students to do some kind of research or capstone
project in university setting. This happens, again,
during the first year. And that’s one of
the things that makes this project so unique
is that we don’t start students off taking classes
that they can’t relate to their education. We know putting them in
that shadowing experience gets them excited about
what they’re going to do. And it helps them
sustain the momentum that they need to be
successful in the end. So let’s talk about one of
the most important components of this project, and that’s
the actual scholarship dollars that your student will receive
being a part of this program. And I’m going to start by
giving you a little warning. Welcome to the world of
higher education acronyms. There are still
acronyms I don’t know. So if you don’t know,
please ask the question. So let’s start
with the first one. I’m going to draw out
right now the equation that we use to calculate
the SOAR scholarship amount. So first of all, we take
the cost of attendance. Right now, cost of
attendance, depending on what residence hall
the student lives in, is around $24,000 for one year. That includes
tuition, books, food. It includes everything,
including a little miscellaneous category. The next thing we do
is we subtract the EFC. Now, since you have students
who are SOAR scholars and you’ve completed
your FAFSA, you know the almighty EFC is the
Expected Family Contribution. The only way to get that number
is by completing your FAFSA. So I’m going to
divert a little bit and talk about FAFSA
just very briefly because this seems to
be one of the things that students going
throughout this program struggled the most with. Parents have to do taxes in
order to get that FAFSA number. And so students, a lot
of times, get behind on getting their
FAFSA in because they can’t get the numbers that
they need for the FAFSA. So I’m asking you right
now– just jot it down in your calendar– every January, this
is something that needs to happen so that
you can get the EFC number for your student. So now back to the equation. We take our cost of
attendance to the university. And like I said, right
now, it’s about 24,000. We subtract expected
family contribution. And then we subtract all
other scholarships and grants. So this is where it gets a
little tricky because there are some scholarships and
grants that don’t actually come through until August. So you could get a letter
that says, congratulations, you’re a SOAR scholar. You’re awarded X
number of dollars. But then on August 25, the
day before classes start, a scholarship comes
in, which is fantastic, and that will
decrease that number. This can be frustrating. But I look at it like this. SOAR is here for
four years as long as the student maintains the
grade point average that they need to maintain, which tends
to be a lot lower than all the other scholarships. So what I tell
students and what I tell parents is even if your
scholarship is $1, which is rare, but even if
it’s $1, in future years, it can go up because
we recalculate that SOAR scholarship
every single year based on this calculation. And now we’re going to talk
about how you and your students can be successful, specifically
what it takes to soar. I divided this up
into two categories. One, how can students
strive for excellence? And two, how can students
develop their skills for success? How do we make all this happen? First of all, we want students
to engage with the community. What does that look like? We want them to get
involved in clubs. There are over 200 registered
student organizations on campus, everything from
the Ferris Fishing Club to the club where students
actually build their own car. We have clubs related to
communications, social media. So clubs enable students
to come together with other students who have
the same interest as they do. Study groups. We want students to get
involved in study groups. What’s great about the
living learning community is that we have students
who are in the same wing, and they’re taking
the same classes. So forming those study
groups becomes really easy. The next thing, social events. Now you’re saying,
whoa, whoa, whoa. Social events– I’m
sending my kid to college so they can get in and get out
four years and get that job. But here’s what we’ve learned. Social events are
incredibly important. One of the most important
parts of the social aspect is networking. A lot of times at social events,
we will have alumni come back and talk to students. So I can’t tell you
the number of times I’ve seen an alumni
and a student talking. They realize they have
the same interests. The alumni says to
the student, how would you like to do some
shadowing or, maybe later on, an internship at my company? And that opens the door not
only for that internship, but then also
potential job offers. So social events,
incredibly important. And honor societies. The one that comes to mind for
me because of my discipline is the TriBeta, Beta Beta
Beta, Biological Honor Society. It’s another form of a club. All the activities that
they do are about biology. They bring in speakers. And, again, a lot of them
are alumni where they’re connecting with students. So these four things, while some
of them can look very social, we know are really important
so that the student doesn’t totally get bogged down
with their studies, and they realize there’s more
to life out there once they get that degree. Next step is getting students
to engage in the discipline. Now, a lot of students
don’t start this until they’re in their
second, mostly even third or fourth year. We are going to get SOAR
scholars involved in this from the very beginning. So what does this
engagement look like? First of all, we want our
students going to seminars. I remember as a freshman
sitting in seminars, I had absolutely no idea
what they were talking about. That’s OK. Students will feel that way. But I also remember when
I was a sophomore when the light bulb went
on, and that was one of the most exciting
moments of my life. The next thing we
want them to do is to go to student
talks or student seminars because now they can
start to see themselves in that situation. And if we’re getting
students to start doing the shadowing
and the research work during that first
year, they’re going to be giving student
talks sometime in the second year and beyond. It doesn’t matter if the
student is involved in research. It doesn’t matter
what the product is. What it shows employers
is that students can conceive of an idea, do
the work, and present it. And employers
absolutely love that. The next thing we want
students to get involved in is job fairs or other
career opportunities. Again, SOAR students will
be doing this from day one. It doesn’t matter
that they’re not going to get a job
for four more years that might be the
start of their career. We want to get their
name out there. We want to introduce them
to people and, probably most importantly, getting
them comfortable in working with and talking
to professionals within the discipline. And finally, we want students
to have the opportunity to go to conferences, be they
local, national, regional, international. We actually have some money
set aside in the program so if a student
has an opportunity to present their work
somewhere, they can do that. The next thing we want students
to do is pursue opportunities. We’ve talked a little bit
about shadowing, right? Three different
opportunities, half day to a day, two
companies, and probably with a professor at Ferris. What we found from that
is that sometimes students go into college thinking,
this is absolutely what I want to do. And then when they’re put
in a real life scenario, it’s not exactly
what they want to do. So shadowing helps
students kind of refine what it is they exactly
want to do with their lives. The second opportunity that
students can go for– and we have a lot of these
opportunities at Ferris– are grants. And I don’t mean
the type of grants that help students
pay for college. I mean the type of grants
that help students and faculty members pay for projects that
the students do with them. Believe it or not,
students can start writing these grants
for faculty members from the day they get here. The third thing is
summer research. So a lot of students
have the opportunity to do research with
faculty members sometimes throughout
the academic year. But with STEM majors, it’s
a really, really intense curriculum. And so what we find is
that in the summertime, that’s actually the
ideal time for students to get involved in research. And don’t worry, parents,
I know you’re thinking, I want them to come home. They could get some work done. The cool thing about
it is at Ferris, students, when they’re
doing summer research, actually can live
for free on campus. They can also get jobs
on campus, do work study. And most of the time, they get
paid for their summer research work. And finally, internships. Now, while internships
don’t usually happen until the
third or fourth year, if we have a company
and a student who have that opportunity
to come together and do that
internship, we’re going to make sure the
student can do that. Next, we want to help students
focus on today while keeping an eye on tomorrow. So one of the first
things that they’re going to do in their freshman
seminar, the FSUS 100 class, is they’re going
to write a resume. That resume is going to be
modified throughout the course of their career. It’s also going to be used
every time they apply for a job, right? Next thing we’re
going to do is we’re going to help students, when
they apply for different jobs and also graduate school,
help them perfect those apps. It’s not something they
just sit down and fill out. We want them to be
very well thought out to be the kind of application
that really sticks out to whoever is reading it. And we’re going to help
students with that. The next thing we
want students to do is to develop that
support network. You are 100% that
support network. In a few slides, we’re going
to talk a little bit more about that as it relates to you. But the support network is
going to involve other family members. It’s certainly going to
involve the close-knit group of SOAR scholars that they
spend their four years with and other students
that they meet here. But that support network
is incredibly important. And finally, we’re
going to work with them not only to prepare
for but also to take the exams they may need to take
to get into graduate school. This could be the GRE, the
Graduate Record Examination, or any of the other
types of exams students need to go on past
their baccalaureate degree. And finally, we want to help
students be the professionals that they want to be. So we’re going to have a lot of
conversations about reputation. We’re going to talk
about social media and how social media has that
positive and possibly that negative spin as well. We’re going to talk about how to
create that positive reputation so when employers are looking at
students as potential employees that it’s a positive
experience for them. We’re also going to talk
about professionalism and how students carry themselves
and how professionalism in an everyday setting is
incredibly important, not just in the classroom,
not just when interacting with alumni, but all the time. Another important part
of professionalism– and you can get this from
reading any business magazine– is what do the top CEOs in
the world want in employees. We know they want people
who will collaborate. They want people who
will communicate, both written and orally. We know they want people
who can critically think and, of course, people
who are not only motivated but who can motivate others. That’s the kind of
professional that we’re trying to create with
our SOAR students. So as we soar into
the 21st century, I want to talk about
one last thing, and that’s time, your
time in their time. Specifically, I want to
talk about the expectations that you have of
them, and I want to talk about their
responsibilities. This is a hard part because you
have to work on this balance about being part of their
support network– remember, I talked about that
about four slides ago– and also not having
expectations of them like you did in high school. That becomes really difficult. So hopefully, when I talk
about what their time is going to look like from an
academic perspective, that will help you frame
it a little better. So first of all, for them,
one credit hour of studying– this is for STEM majors– requires three to four
hours of study time. Now, they’re going to
come home, and they’re going to talk about their
friends that might not have to study this much. But I hope you take from this
that they will have to study. I never realized this
when I was a student. I wish someone would
have told me this. I think I probably would
have done better in school. And don’t worry, we’re going
to tell them this as well. But this is a really
important thing in terms of framing the
amount of time you’re going to have to
spend and they’re going to have to spend studying. So average STEM student, if they
want to graduate in four years, is going to have to take
15 credit hours a semester. So if we have 15 credit hours
and we multiply three to four study hours, we’re going
to end up with in real time 45 hours to 60 hours a
week just of studying. Now, that does not include
adding to it the time they’re spending in class. Because they’re STEM
majors, they have labs. It’s not just 15 hours. It’s going to be
closer to 20 hours. So now we’re going to add 20
hours to this of class time. So from when they
wake up in the morning until they go to bed at
night, seven days a week, they’re going to
have to figure out how to work in 65 to
80 hours of academics. And I can spell– really, I can. So I like that I can
spell– really, I can. Pick it up after that. OK. So you just made the
comment of I can spell– trust me, I can. I can spell– trust me, I can. But they’re going to have to be
working 65 to 80 hours a week. And so I hope that
helps you understand what their responsibilities are
as you think of supporting them and what expectations you’re
going to have for them. Thank you so much
for your time today. We are so excited your
students are coming to Ferris, and we can’t wait
to work with them. Remember, we’re here
to help them and you. You can see our
contact information in this video as
well as the email. If you have any
questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Thanks.

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