Student Life Pathways FAQ

What are the Student Life Pathways?

The Student Life Pathways are co-curricular learning model designed to help students get involved and stay involved during their MSUM career while building skills through their experiences. The Pathways help students see how different involvement opportunities link together so they develop skills over time through their experiences. The Pathways help bring clarity to the skills students develop through co-curricular involvement.

How many Student Life Pathways are there and what are they?
There are five different Pathways and each has a different emphasis.

  1. Community Life – getting connected and involved as a Dragon
  2. Professional Success – developing skills to land an internship or job
  3. Equity & Inclusion – building knowledge and skills to engage with others
  4. Contribution & Influence – understanding themselves and how they can make an impact
  5. Personal Wellness – understanding and using tools to be emotionally, physically, academically, and financially healthy

Why were the Student Life Pathways created?
The short answer is that the Student Life Pathways were created so that we are collectively clear on what we aim to help students learn through their involvement, help them articulate the skills they gain, and demonstrate the value of the MSUM experience. The Pathways support MSUM’s priority of offering a distinctive student experience – they are designed to meet students’ and employers’ expectations for transferrable skills. Read on for a more in-depth explanation.

  • Long-term Involvement: In student life, we were getting feedback from students that they didn’t feel like there were experiences for them throughout their time at MSUM. After hearing “I’ve done it all by the time I’m a sophomore,” we knew we need a different model for delivering co-curricular experiences and helping students clearly see the value in and the learning from their involvement.
  • Skill Building / Professional Development: Students were showing up at the Career Center saying “I need to make a resume but I haven’t DONE anything!?” After asking a few questions, it became clear that most student did have things to put on their resumes, they just didn’t always remember what they had done or have a clear way of articulating what skills they had. The Student Life Pathways create clear avenues for learning and skill development and positions the experiences as learning opportunities more concretely.
  • Retention: The Student Life Pathways are a strategy to increase student persistence, satisfaction, and sense of belonging. Multiple studies have shown that student involvement is a statistically significant contributor to positive outcomes in the student retention-persistence-graduation realm.
  • Intentional Student Life Experience: The Pathways ensure we are intentionally designing experiences to engage students throughout their entire MSUM experience and contribute to their learning. The Pathways create a framework to focus our co-curricular efforts as an institution so we are pointing in the same direction to create a transformative student life experience at MSUM.
  • Best Practices: As we researched different models and best practices, this Pathways type of model emerged as one that was working well for students – it’s broken up into themes, it breaks down the experiences into manageable chunks that demonstrate a skill, they can track their progress to build skills over time, and students do not feel like it’s an “all or nothing” approach to their experiences. Additionally, the model incorporates assessment which helps us determine what students are learning and use that information as part of annual reporting, accreditation, etc.

What’s the point of having the Student Life Pathways?
The Student Life Pathways each have an over-arching educational goal and learning outcomes to identify the skills students are building. Essentially, the Student Life Pathways help our campus get collectively clear on what students can learn through their co-curricular experiences and guide us in the development of events and programs. The learning outcomes associated with Pathways are used by the Enrollment Management and Student Affairs division departments

They also can serve as a “choose your own adventure” roadmap for students to identify what they want to get out of their MSUM experience and know what to participate in to achieve their goals.

How are the Student Life Pathways structured?

  • There are Five Pathways, each with a different emphasis based on an educational goal.
    • Pathway = defined by the educational goal.
  • Each Pathway has multiple Skillsets the students can build.
    • Skillsets = defined learning outcome
  • Within a Skillset, students complete multiple experiences in order to develop the skills.
    • Experiences = a mix of events or programs along with on-you-own time learning

Example of the Structure:

  • Pathway: Professional Success (Educational Goal: Students who participate in experiences in the Professional Success Pathway will be able to identify and articulate transferrable skills learned through their co-curricular experiences and demonstrate professionalism.)
    • Skillset: Communication (Learning Outcome: Students will demonstrate active listening skills and will be able to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly, using effective methods.)
      • Items/Experiences:
        • Attend a Speaker on Campus (event)
        • Learn About Listening (“on your own time” learning through LinkedIn Learning course we chose to meet the learning outcome)
        • Speak at an Event (personal experience)
        • Participate in Conflict Resolution Practices (workshop)
        • Participate in Healthy Workplace Relationships Training (workshop)
        • Personal Branding (workshop)
        • Developing Your Communication Skills (choose one)
          • Best Practices for Speaking (workshop)
          • Participate in a Communication Related Student Org
          • Attend a Communication-related Conference or Event

You can see all the Pathways, Skillsets, and Items on DragonCentral.


What’s a Skillset?
Each Pathway has three to five skillsets. Our goal is to help you build that skill through experiences and learning opportunities over time. We know that a one-hour workshop on something can’t make you an expert, so each skill area has a number of items or experiences to complete. The ultimate goal is to help you identify the skills you’ve built so you can add them to your resume or feel confident sharing what you know in a job or grad school interview one day!

What’s an item / experience?
Items and experiences differ a bit based on the Pathway or Skill Area. Completing an item may include going to an event or attending a workshop – these items will automatically get checked off for you through DragonCentral. Other items can be completed on your own time and you’ll get credit by answering a few questions about the experience, which you can do right through DragonCentral.

What’s in it for a student?
Each Pathway has unique learning experiences to build skills that’ll help students now at MSUM and in their future careers. Students often have difficulty remembering all their experiences – so having the ability to track organization membership, trainings / workshops, programs, and involvement on DragonCentral gives them something to refer to when developing a resume or prepping for an interview. Plus, on DragonCentral, their experiences can be categorized by skills to see what experiences have contributed to their skill building.

As students complete skillsets, they’re also entered into a prize drawing each semester. Students choose from a menu of options valued around $100. There is a drawing for a winner in each Pathway (so up to five winners each semester).

Where can students find the Student Life Pathways?
The Student Life Pathways are all on DragonCentral (where else, right!?). Sign in with a star ID and password. Then you can scroll down to find them right above “Campus Links” or use the menu in the top right with your profile image to get to Paths. After you navigate to your paths, click on one and see what progress you’ve made and what other experiences you can have. Hint: You’ve probably already started on at least one path!

Is Pathways just attending events?
Nope! There are plenty of items students can do on their own. They’re marked as “On Your Own” (see the video tutorial). We intentionally planned the Pathways so it’s not all just events students have to go to. We know that schedules are packed with classes, studying, jobs, and more – so we have intentionally created ways for students who may be busy or not on campus to still participate.

Can students only participate in the events listed?
There are plenty of things happening at MSUM, so we want students to do the things that they’re excited about! If they’ve been to an event or had an experience that they think may meet the criteria to complete an item, they can contact the Office of Student Activities to chat about what skillset their experience fits with best.

How might Pathways connect to the classes I teach?
There are lots of possibilities – depending on your courses and subject area, the co-curricular experiences very likely help students put their classroom learning into practice. For example, if a psychology course might encourage students to participate in an Emotional Intelligence Workshop. Or a project management course might connect students with the opportunity to participate in a Conflict Resolution in the Workplace workshop. The Office of Student Activities is also open to ideas you have – guest speakers, assignments that are experiential learning, etc. – all you’ve got to do is ask.

How do I talk to students about the Student Life Pathways?
The Student Life Pathways are intended to support students’ involvement. Pathways are a way to track their experiences and a tool for identifying specific, transferrable skills they have built through their involvement as a student. It also helps students connect their variety of experience together and better understand how they build on one another. Here are a few key points to emphasize:

  • Pathways are designed to encourage your involvement at MSUM – it’s not an assignment or requirement
  • The more you participate, the greater benefits you’ll gain! By tracking all the experiences you have and ways you are involved, you can look back at what you’ve accomplished and transfer that to a resume or use it when prepping for a job interview.
  • Employers are looking for students who can communicate their skills and experiences in real-world settings. Pathways are a professional and personal development opportunity.
  • Pathways can be a guide to having a well-rounded and intentional experience at MSUM that incorporates students’ classroom learning with co-curricular experiences.
  • Pathways offer opportunities to building on the skills students learn in the classroom and be a way to further develop those skills in different situations.
  • Connect with Advising of their students as the career-oriented part of your conversation

What value do employers see in the Pathways?
“Individuals that are able to communicate how their skills and experiences apply to real-world situations standout to employers, as we are able to gain a better sense of how the individual will perform in a role. Connecting coursework, extra-curriculars and work experiences allows an individual to provide examples of how they have/would handle situations. The more insight into who the individual is and how they behave, how do they define success, what motivates them, when do they need support, etc… leads to a more authentic and honest portrayal of professional potential. I strongly encourage students to embrace opportunities that challenge them and builds their professional repertoire.” - Sarah Kenz, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Titan Machinery

“I think having students participate in something like Student Life Pathways has a significant impact of students and their future careers. Student involvement – on or off campus – seems to affect how student do with those soft skills. It really helps prep them for working within teams, communicating well with others, dealing with conflict, and working with other personalities. Excited to see how this benefits MSUM students. “ - Jenna Bixler, College & Internship Recruiter for Wanzek Construction

How do the Pathways support the Distinctive Student Experience?
These are an example of being able to build on our strengths. By investing a little more time and intentionality into the co-curricular offerings, we are able clearly communicate what students gain from their experiences and meet students’ expectations of what the holistic student experience can be. The skillsets on the Pathways are designed to build skills that students and employer have indicated are valuable.

Is there a certain order to complete the Pathways?
Nope! Students can work on multiple skills at one time. They can work on multiple paths at one time. The goal is having students discover what’s interesting or beneficial to them and build on it. The experiences in each skill area are intentionally put together to help students build that skill, but you can accomplish them in any order you like.

Are the Student Life Pathways a requirement?
No – they are a value add for students. Students will see many events and experiences automatically being tracked for them in DragonCentral, so it’s likely that they’ve gotten started on most of the Pathways by the end of their FYE class. We’re anticipating that with some intentional nudges and encouragement from staff and faculty that students will see the progress they have been making and choose to continue participating in the areas that are most interesting to them.

How does this apply to Upper Class students?
If they’ve been involved on campus, they will probably see some items in the different skill areas of a Pathway already marked as complete. The Pathways are a great way to think about the skills they’ve built so far and what they’ve learned through their involvement – and they can use that info to polish up their resume or when prepping to interview for an internship or job.

If students have questions on getting credit for previous experiences, they can contact the Office of Student Activities.

Does progress roll over into the next semester / year?
Yep! Students can work on all five of the Student Life Pathways for their entire college career and DragonCentral will keep track of all the progress. If they start a Pathway the first semester of Freshman year, they can work on it and still even finish it their last semester of senior year (and still get their name put in a prize drawing!).

Can student organizations host Pathway events?
Yes. If an organization is planning an event that the students believe would meet the goals of a certain Pathway, they can contact the Office of Student Activities to chat about if it would fit the criteria. If the event becomes a Pathway event, all the group needs to do is take attendance so students get credit.