Experiential education is an important element of the K-Plan, with on-campus and off-campus opportunities in both domestic and international settings. Study abroad, study away through domestic programs, service-learning, student research, internships and externships, the Guilds, and student activities and athletics are key curricular components of the K-Plan, and are supported by a variety of administrative departments on campus.
The intentional weaving together of hands-on involvement, experiential learning, and mentorship within the context of a rigorous academic life is the hallmark of our First-Year Experience (FYE). Kalamazoo College was named one of thirteen "Institutions of Excellence in the First College Year" by the National Policy Center on the First Year of College and is featured in Achieving and Sustaining Institutional Excellence for the First Year of College (Jossey-Bass, 2005). US News & World Report has recognized Kalamazoo's First-Year Experience as a "program that really works." FYE at Kalamazoo College helps students:
First-Year Seminars are the foundation of the FYE program, which includes participation in orientation and the Summer Common Reading, connections with Peer Leaders and academic advisors, and attendance at First-Year Forums. Peer Leaders, carefully selected student-mentors, share their knowledge and experiences to help first-year students achieve greater academic and personal success. Each First-Year Seminar is assigned a Peer Leader.
The Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) empowers students to identify and secure experiences that will help them clarify their career aspirations, broaden their networks, and hone their professional skills, so that they are well prepared to step confidently into life after Kalamazoo College.
To support students in their career development, the CCPD offers a variety of programs throughout the calendar year (the Discovery Externship Program and Field Experience Program in the summer months, and recruiting events, networking opportunities, and the annual Professional Development Institute during the academic year). The CCPD's staff also offers services including individual counseling appointments, peer advising, career assessment tools, résumé and cover letter critiques, practice interviews, and a variety of workshops and events.
Housed in the CCPD, the Kalamazoo College Guilds are communities of practice that bring together students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the College around common professional interests. For students, Guilds connect elements of the K-Plan into a more integrated educational experience and develop networks and professional relationships useful after graduation.
Every study abroad program at Kalamazoo College is unique, but each offers challenging course work in an education system whose values and methods reflect those of the local culture, opportunities for integrative cultural experiences, and structured opportunities for using the local language(s) both in and out of the classroom. As the academic, language, and other specific qualifications differ from program to program, it is imperative that students carefully read the program descriptions and Study Abroad Handbook, available from the Center for International Programs (CIP).
About three-fourths of Kalamazoo College students participate in programs with the nationally recognized Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement. Each year, faculty offer over 20 community-based courses across the disciplines. Every week over 200 students work - as volunteers or through federal work study - in ongoing programs that student Civic Engagement Scholars lead and coordinate. In the summer, we offer six-week, fully-funded Community Based Internships in Kalamazoo. Our programs address issues such as health and educational equity, migrant rights, prison reform, community arts, food justice, sustainability, and neighborhood development. Collaborating in long-term partnerships with over 40 community organizations and grass-roots groups, students serve as scholar activists who conduct research and outreach, develop community gardens, make films, register voters, work with Kalamazoo Public School students, create health education materials, make art and poetry with community members, influence environmental policy, and more. Our emphasis is on building relationships for community change. The CCE requires all students, within courses or in student-led programs, to engage in structured reflection in order to make critical connections between service and learning, theory and practice, the global and the local, and the elements of their individualized "K Plan." All of our programs foster civic, academic, and personal growth within a social justice framework, and through collaborative learning our partnerships offer plentiful opportunities for student leadership and community transformation.
Kalamazoo College students who meet appropriate qualifications are eligible to apply for participation in a fine arts program in New York City, a fall quarter seminar at the Newberry Library in Chicago, an urban studies program at The Philadelphia Center, a semester program on the U.S.-Mexico border through the Border Studies Program, and a science/social science term at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. College faculty members serve as liaison advisers to these programs. Students interested in the GLCA programs should consult with the appropriate faculty advisor or the Center for International Programs.