Student Affairs

The Flip Side of Engagement: Battling the Loneliness Epidemic on College Campuses

Duration: 1 hour
Facilitator: Dr. Adam Peck
Price: $50.00

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Traditional notions of student engagement follow a well-established pattern. Students come to college seeking engagement, institutions provide them opportunities to connect with engagement opportunities through involvement fairs and other similar programs, and then students connect in ways that increase their feeling of engagement with the institution and with each other. This pattern was based on a few stable factors. Among these factors was, that for traditional-aged college students, there was a social expectation that upon entering college, they would leave their previous relationships behind and begin a new social group. That is not often how students approach college today. 

Social media allows students to stay connected to their high school peers and while this allows them to support each other during the most significant transition of their life, it also has many negatives. As a recent article in the New York Times reported, “The technology that keeps them connected to parents and high school friends only reminds them of their physical separation from just about everyone they know best” (The Real Campus Scourge, 2017, para 3). They also see the college experience of their high school cohort through the distorted lens of social media, making it appear as if everyone they know seems to be a lot happier and more successful than they are.

And the stakes for their success are very high. Exacerbated by rising college costs and shrinking job prospects, students know that they have a lot riding on college success. This may cause them to focus on their classes, and deemphasize the “fun” aspects of college. In this scenario, students not only miss the opportunity to connect with each other, but also on the many learning benefits of cocurricular involvement. 

This session will provide an overview of the growing issue of loneliness on college campuses along with an analysis of how our traditional view of engagement will need to adapt to address it. Participants will leave with concrete examples of how to leverage the changing perceptions of a new generation to help students get their bearings and thrive throughout their time in college.

Learning outcomes:

  • Participants will understand the shift in engagement expectations of today’s college students.
  • Participants will analyze how student engagement will need to change to draw in these students.
  • Participants will create new strategies for adapting programs on their own campuses.

Presenter biography:

Dr. Adam Peck serves as Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Peck is also President and CEO of APEX Educational Programs, LLC, an educational consulting company that assists universities in engaging students and measuring the impact of that engagement. A former stand-up and improvisational comedian, Peck is a dynamic speaker who infuses his presentations with creativity and humor. He has presented at numerous national conferences, provided keynotes for a wide variety of groups and conducted more than 30 national webinars. Peck earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Lewis University, a Master of Arts in Communication Studies from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a Doctor of Philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin.

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