Community Work Program Shifts to Common Application

Jordan Korn '22, Staff Writer

During the 2018-2019 academic year, a faculty committee was created to evaluate and improve the Community Work Program (CWP). As a result of the changes the committee implemented, last spring for the first time, returning students were able to rank work-jobs in the order they preferred. The faculty committee also worked on a common application that they hoped would streamline applications for leadership positions within the work-job program.

According to the new application process, the applications will first be sorted based on the indicated first-choice position. The faculty supervisors of each of those respective programs will be the first to look through those applications, but all the decisions will be made collectively by the community work program as a whole.

Mr. Eric LaForest, director of the Norton Family Center for the Common Good, history teacher, and a member of the CWP faculty committee, explained why he saw the need for a streamlined application process.

“The reason I supported the idea and pushed for [a common application system] as a part of the broader revamp of the CWP was that I had seen students get lost in the spring application frenzy,” Mr. LaForest said.

A specific feature of the common application is the ability to rank choices of positions. This change was instituted to guide decisions made by the leaders of these programs, so they can take into account students’ preferences. This also serves as an indicator of a students’ enthusiasm and interest towards the specific program in which they are applying, something that did not exist before.

“I think this year [the application] is more about expressing interest and making sure that you are passionate about what you are doing…Our main goal is to educate, not to test people,” said Kendall Rice ’21, a current member of the Environmental Proctors.

Mr. LaForest shared similar thoughts.

“As a leader of a program that is part of the [Student Community Committee] it has been hard to gauge students’ interest sometimes…What the common app does really well and in a streamlined way is to allow students to express a preference for certain jobs over others. And that’s going to really help us pick students who really want to do it instead of guessing on that question,” Mr. LaForest said.

The committee also prioritized incorporating leadership roles into the work-job program. In the past, work-jobs and leadership positions that counted as work-jobs may have been viewed as separate entities, especially by the student body. Work-job programming is moving towards a more cumulative system, and the intention is that students are meant to build up to leadership positions within the work-job program.

“There’s some relationship in the way you go about work in the dining hall as a freshman when it comes time to apply to be Prefect as a junior,” said the new Director of Community Work Programs Mr. Tim Helfrich ’96, one of the leaders of the common application implementation.

This year, applications for the leadership roles of tour guide, RA, and prefect were conducted separately from the common application. However, they are potentially going to be incorporated into the streamlined system down the road.

“For a long time, the leadership roles that got work-job credit were seen as students as ‘I’m exempt from the work-job program because I’m a tour guide. I’m not in the work program.’ We wanted to go around that and say no this is a culminating experience in a four-year plan. For you to start in some common good jobs that aren’t resume builders necessarily but make a difference. These other jobs you apply for are still within the program. The common app solidifies that,” Mr. LaForest said.

In part, the common application is meant to make students’ lives easier. Previously each leadership position would have very similar, but different applications that all needed to be turned in at different dates. There was also no easy place for a student to look at all their work-job options since each system was conducted separately.

This also led to problems related to work-job credits, when a student had applied for and received more than one leadership position. Since the leadership positions are going to be distributed based on a centralized system there will be no confusion.

“I think it will be a lot easier because people will know how to apply…People don’t read the Daily Bulletin always and people don’t really know what e-proctors and ag-proctors are. With the common app, people can read through all the options and decide what they’re interested in,” Kendall said.