Pursuing a college education is one way people choose to grow their human capital and make themselves more valuable post-graduation. While going to class and getting a degree is an essential part of this, the work students do outside of the classroom through experiential learning can help them “discover knowledge through action and reflection,” according to Albion’s website.
The Albion On Purpose initiative aims to solve the problem of “needing experience to start your career, but needing a career to get experience,” according to Albion’s website. Completing certificates and badges allows students to gain relevant experience before they enter the workforce.
Chrissy Pfeil, projects and operations manager for Albion College’s School for Public Purpose and Professional Advancement, said the certificate and badge programs were officially soft-launched in August 2022, making them relatively new.
“We’re still really developing them and figuring out what works best for students,” Pfeil said.
According to the website, innovation badges “provide credentials for co-curricular events, experiences, lectures and activities that have established learning outcomes.” They can be completed asynchronous, synchronous or hybrid. There are three levels of badges, foundational, intermediate and advanced, which can take anywhere from 10 to 40 hours to complete.
Experiential certificates take a bit more time and effort to earn than badges.
According to Pfeil, to obtain a certificate, students must complete a combination of tasks. First, students enroll in certain courses that are relevant to the subject of their certificate. Second, they do professional development and complete badges related to their certificate. Lastly, they participate in experiential learning hours through internships, employment, volunteer work or other relevant experience.
Every institute offers approximately three different certificate options. Examples include human rights advocacy, leadership in business, drug design, and more. Pfeil said that it is not necessary to be a member of the institute to complete a certificate offered by that institute.
Pfeil said if none of the already established certificates appeal to them, students can design their own individualized certificate that fits their personal career goals. Certificates and badges have no additional costs, either, Pfeil said. The only requirement to earn a badge or certificate is to be a full-time Albion College student.
If a student is interested in certificates and badges, Pfeil said, they should register for a purpose workshop, which will be advertised in the Albion Today email.
The goal of the program, Pfeil said, is to put “the work you’re doing in the classroom into context.”