CollegiateLink Goes 5C, Students Skeptical

After years of asking for a comprehensive 5C events calendar, students have finally gotten one.

Last Tuesday, students of the Claremont Colleges were notified by e-mail of the 5C launch of the new CollegiateLink website, a service designed to cater to the needs of 5C clubs and organizations and to improve communication between them and their members.

CollegiateLink features a 5C events calendar, profiles on clubs and organizations, club-related news, and a co-curricular activity tracker, among other services. It even allows for clubs and organizations to integrate their Facebook and Twitter accounts with their CollegiateLink profile. With Tuesday’s 5C launch, students and faculty from across the 5Cs can now access the site and its features.

“Every student will go in through their portal, put in their login [information], and get connected,” said Ellie Ash-Bala, Assistant Director of the Smith Campus Center (SCC) and Student Programs at Pomona College.

Despite the site’s benefits, some students remained skeptical about its advantages over widely-used services like Facebook, which many 5C clubs and organizations use to promote events.

“I don’t know how effective it will be, just because I know most people look for events on Facebook and everyone has a Facebook [account],” Candace Lee PO ’14 said.

However, administrators expressed confidence in the usefulness of the site, pointing out that CollegiateLink is not designed to replace the role of social networking sites.

“This really isn’t meant to replace Facebook,” Ash-Bala said. “This is just meant to be more integrated within the colleges’ system so that it can be more efficient.”

According to Christopher Waugh, Pomona’s new Associate Dean of Students and Director of the SCC, the site also promotes a greater sense of connectivity within the 5Cs than Facebook does.

“Organizations will be able to leverage CollegiateLink to spread the word about their programs and events to everyone on campus, not just members of their group, which is a feature unique to CollegiateLink that’s not connected to Facebook,” he said.

Plans to adopt the service began last year after Pomona Vice President and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum signed a contract with Campus Labs, a self-described platform and service provider for assessment in high education, which created CollegiateLink. Feldblum enlisted Ash-Bala, Waugh, and other SCC staff to adapt the site for the 5Cs.

“We were seeing a growing need on campus for more communication with the different [5C] clubs and organizations,” Ash-Bala said. “There were all these clubs and organizations, but there wasn’t one place where students could go to get connected with them.”

According to Ash-Bala, CollegiateLink was also implemented to promote organization and continuity within 5C clubs. Every year, she said, leaders of some 5C groups graduate, leaving no record of the club’s constitution or set of instructions for future leaders. CollegiateLink includes a feature that provides clubs with a space to upload important documents like constitutions and membership applications, which Ash-Bala said she hopes will eventually solve the problem of graduating leaders as more clubs become integrated with the site.

“We’re trying to help clubs and organizations become more organized and equipped to do more things,” she said.

With that goal in mind, the site also features a review service that will provide each organization with an end-of-year report on how or if it met its goals, which events its members attended, and which programs its members most enjoyed. The review also allows leaders of 5C clubs to create a list of learning outcomes for their organization so that students interested in the group will know what they can expect to gain by participating in that organization.

“I think it’s going to help students get more out of their organizational experiences,” Waugh said.

One feature of CollegiateLink that could prove highly useful is the co-curricular transcript that the site will offer to all students who maintain profiles. By tracking a student’s involvement in campus organizations, including their leadership positions and community service hours, the site will generate a transcript of that student’s co-curricular activities that can be presented to potential employers or graduate schools. A student may also take the transcript to their school’s respective career resource office as a guide to that student’s interests.

“Four years go by really quickly, and we encourage students to be very thoughtful about what they’re getting connected to outside the classroom and being strategic about it,” Waugh said. “I think that a tool like CollegiateLink can really help students leverage the power of the co-curricular.”

Several 5C organizations have already put the site to use. Pomona’s Outdoor Education Center (OEC), which houses the student-run outdoors club On the Loose (OTL), has been using CollegiateLink to promote their events and to track attendance at their events and workshops.

“Students interested in outdoor leadership who wish to be certified [in wilderness training] can work directly with the OEC’s Director to obtain the [certification],” said Martin Crawford, Senior Coordinator of the OEC. “CollegiateLink now provides a way to easily track the student’s attendance in workshops, trainings, and lectures.”

Waugh said the long-term success of the site will depend on how the service is used by 5C student organizations and their members.

“At this point, it’s a trial. We want students to use it and to see if it’s something that they think they want to use,” he said. “We believe that it is. But ultimately, it’s up to the students. If they try it and they don’t like it, we’re certainly not going to push it.”

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