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Career Readiness Mini-Con Highlight: UW SOAR: Scaffolding Career Readiness & Personalizing the Student Journey

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Jessica Fischer

Digital Marketing Specialist

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Solutions Used

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Description

The University of Wyoming is continuing to expand its career readiness efforts. Learn how their undergraduate experiential learning and career readiness initiative, “UW SOAR”, has progressed, evolved and grown over the past 12 months.

UW continues to find ways to leverage Suitable's transformative web and mobile capabilities to personalize the student experience and build career-ready students. 

Learn more about how they do it and how the newest department, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, launched its own SOAR program on Suitable.

About the School

The University of Wyoming, located in Laramie, Wyoming, is home to 13,000 students, 11,000 of whom are undergrads. The University of Wyoming offers a wide range of both undergraduate and graduate degrees and majors through its 6 undergraduate colleges and multiple interdisciplinary programs and departments.

With a small student/faculty ratio of 14:1, UW is home to the Wyoming Cowboys and competes in the NCAA Division I-A level athletics and as a member of the Mountain West Conference. UW provides a healthy-minded environment with the Half Acre recreation facilities, the Outdoor Program, UW credit for National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) courses, 19 club sports teams, and 45 intramural sports.

 

Challenges before Suitable

It was over 3 years ago when the University of Wyoming staff wanted to create a program that better prepared their students for the future, boosted engagement and tracked metrics that supported the UW Strategic Plan. 

The plan included core competencies such as community service, civic engagement, diversity, global experiences and more. UW was seeking a platform that supported all these goals, was able to be personalized and made life easier for students and administration alike.

Thus, UW SOAR was born. UW SOAR is a competency-based program comprised of high-impact experiential opportunities that will engage, shape and prepare students to meet complex challenges in the future.

After the research and demos were complete, UW chose Suitable due to its unique gamification features, personalization capabilities and supportive, diligent approach to university success. 

Since then, UW hasn’t slowed down. Between finding ways to leverage Suitable to personalize the student experience and growing campus adoption of UW SOAR - the team continues to scaffold career readiness, boost engagement metrics and improve the student experience.

Life with Suitable

UW SOAR features 7 core competencies.

 

The UW team has accomplished a lot over the past four years. UW SOAR began in 2018 and has expanded every year since.

  • 2018-19: pilot with Freshman Honors
  • 2019-20: expand to all undergraduates
  • 2020-21: Business and Honors launched their own dashboards
  • 2021-22: Engineering personalizes dashboard for their students

The latest addition is the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences SOAR dashboard. The mission of this SOAR program is to provide students a place to prepare for and enter their careers successfully. CEAS SOAR focuses on hard skills used directly in the Engineering industry.

Tyler Grabner, Associate Director of Career Services at the CEAS Center for Student Success, and his team are working towards this mission with three types of badges.

  • Software Certification Badges 
  • Career Readiness Badges
  • Employer-Sponsored Badges
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“The students really are coming out of UW with everything - between the content they're getting in the classes, the experiences they're getting through the SOAR platform, and then the very specific certifications they're getting with their college SOAR dashboard - we feel that we're preparing our students the best way possible to jump into the world of work and succeed. ”

Becky Despain
Advising, Career, and Exploratory Studies Center Manager, Special Projects and Exploratory Studies, University of Wyoming

Take a look at the accomplishments of CEAS SOAR, the latest expansion of the UW SOAR initiative

  • Over 1,500 students in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences are participating in CEAS SOAR.
  • Over 2,600 activities have been completed within the last 12 months.
  • SOAR Engineering is actively getting faculty more involved.
  • Students are developing and nurturing skills that will help them in their future in the engineering field.
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Additional Outcomes Achieved

Since CEAS SOAR launched in 2021, employers have already started taking notice of students who are completing badges. Companies have requested reports of students that have completed certain badges and students have even gotten hired after getting the hands-on experience and education the badges promote.

Not only is this a great sign for future career readiness goals, but the CEAS SOAR initiative already has well over 2,000 activities completed and a 43% student engagement rate within less than 12 months.

 

Plans for the Future

The UW SOAR program has grown significantly over the past 4 years, and the team has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

Some of the continued goals and expansions of UW SOAR include: 

  • SaddleUp: Fall 2022 implementing a week-zero onboarding experience for all incoming freshmen.
  • Consolidating Platforms: The team is currently working on migrating content from another platform.
  • Pre-Nursing Badge: Collaborating with the Pre-Nursing department to create a badge for aspiring nursing students.
  • Cowboy Coaches: Engaging with our Cowboy Coaches to utilize and promote the SOAR program with freshman students.
  • Canvas Integration: Develop additional faculty partnerships across campus via integration into WyoCourses (LMS).

Within the next 2-3 years, the goal is that any new general education requirements that have an element of experiential learning are launched within SOAR.

In addition, the team is looking to house all student employment evaluations (self and supervisor) within the SOAR platform.