St. Petersburg, FL: Presence, a higher education market leader known for helping collect and understand student involvement data and its connection to student retention and graduation rates, has released its most advanced feature set to-date: the Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform. These new features released are designed to increase student success after graduation by focusing on experiential learning, skill development, and workforce readiness. In addition to providing a platform for institutions to incorporate learning outcome frameworks, Presence will provide students with interactive co-curricular transcripts that update in real-time, known as SmartTranscripts.
Presence Founder & CEO Reuben Pressman notes that:
“Over the past several years, it has become increasingly apparent that it is not enough for students to have a degree. Employers are looking for students who also are proficient in a variety of skills, like communication, teamwork, and project management.
“These skills are often called ‘soft skills’, but that implies that they aren’t valuable. What we know is that they are essential to graduates’ employability, and because of that, institutions of higher education have a responsibility to foster their development.”
These essential skills are rarely developed inside the classroom. Rather, they are built through campus programs, internships, leadership roles in organizations like Student Government, and through community service.
In fact, a Lumina study from 2013 found that only 11% of employers surveyed felt that institutions were graduating students who had the skills and competencies their business needs. recent college graduates were lacking in these “soft” skills. Additionally, a 2012 survey conducted by IBM of 1,700 CEOs in 64 countries found that the skills that employers most wanted were these non-technical skills.
Figure 5 may be found on page 21 of the Leading Through Connections study.
Presence’s Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform is designed to not only help students develop these essential skills, but help them understand how the experiences they participate in around campus and in the broader community contribute to their skill development and employability.
A 2015 study by AACU found that while students feel that they are well-prepared in a variety of skill areas, employers don’t agree.
Bar chart may be found here: https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/surveydata.jpg
The Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform will help close the skills gap, allowing students to more accurately represent the skills that they are proficient in, and allowing employers to see a demonstrable record of how students have developed those skills.
Features of the Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform include:
• Automated workflows that reduce the amount of staff time spent managing co-curricular programs
• Gamification tools, including a progress tracker and earnable points, to encourage students to continue to develop their skills
• Reflection tools to verify that students are on-track in their skill development pathways
• A SmartTranscript that updates in real-time and shows students how much they’ve grown,what they need to do next, and how to accomplish it
As Andy Gould, VP of Campus Development, notes:
“Co-curricular programming has historically been incredibly time-intensive for staff members. At Presence, part of our mission is to simplify processes for student affairs professionals, so it was only natural that when we built the Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform, we considered how we could make the process simple and reliable for campus administrators and students alike.”
By centralizing all learning outcomes into the same platform that students use to find events, volunteer opportunities, and certification programs around campus, the Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform clearly draws the connection between involvement and skill development. The Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform is inclusive of all of the experiences that campuses might offer: study abroad, service learning and volunteer hours, internships, on-campus jobs, certifications, awards, leadership programs, mentorships, research opportunities, apprenticeships, and more.
“Students want to improve their skills, and 98% of students want their data to be used to optimize their college experience. They want a well-paying job when they graduate,” Pressman says. “With the release of the Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform, we will be able to support colleges and universities in creating a generation of students that is more ready for the workforce than any that have come before it.”
Presence is a comprehensive student affairs solution for colleges and universities to measure, analyze, and improve co-curricular involvement, learning, and student success on campus. The powerful system allows institutions of higher education to understand how student engagement impacts retention, graduation rates, and student learning and success. Founded in 2014 by University of South Florida Saint Petersburg graduate and St. Petersburg native Reuben Pressman, the startup now works with over 100 institutions nationwide and is funded by several local investors, including Jeff Vinik & Ron Schlossler, in addition to world-class Venture Capital Firm, 500 Startups Mobile Collective.
For more information:
Introducing the Co-Curricular Opportunities Platform
Cassandra Corrado, Director of Marketing
“Well-Prepared in Their Own Eyes”, Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed (January 2015), https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/01/20/study-finds-big-gaps-between-student-and-employer-perceptions
Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success, Hart Research Associates for AAC&U, January 2015, https://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/LEAP/2015employerstudentsurvey.pdf
What America Needs to Know About Higher Education Redesign, Gallup for Lumina Foundation, 2014, https://www.luminafoundation.org/files/resources/2013-gallup-lumina-foundation-report.pdf
Leading Through Connections, IBM, 2012, https://www-935.ibm.com/services/multimedia/anz_ceo_study_2012.pdf
“Students Want Their Personal Data to be Used to Improve the College Experience, Survey Says“, Meghan Bogardus Cortez, Ed Tech Magazine, December 2016, https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2016/12/students-want-their-personal-data-be-used-improve-college-experience-survey-says