All About the LLLS Program!

For many students, the opportunity to work while attending college is an important factor that may play into their decision to attend a certain university or not. Most schools have programs that allow students to acquire on-campus work, where they can spend a few hours a week doing anything from selling books in the bookstore to tutoring other students or even helping a professor with research.

Franklin has its own version of that concept, called the Life-Long Learning Scholarship Program (LLLS for short). According to the LLLS student manual, the program "supports students by preparing them to be career-ready upon graduation from Franklin, not only with regard to academic foundations in their respective disciplines, but also by providing them with skills that are essential in public and private sector employment in a wide variety of settings."

Writing and Learning Center (WLC) tutors convene in the Fowler Library after their weekly staff meeting. 

How does the Life-Long Learning Scholarship program work?

Through the LLLS program, students are able to apply for up to three on-campus positions per academic year, for up to 10 hours per week. There is something out there for everyone, in every department of the university, from administration to The Writing and Learning Center to tech support to marketing. The opportunities are practically endless.

Available positions are divided into two categories: Tier I and Tier II. Essentially, Tier I positions are entry-level and help students learn basic career skills. Tier II positions, on the other hand, are generally more advanced and involve a higher degree of challenge.

For example, I hold two LLLS positions at present. One position is Tier I: I work as a library assistant, overseeing and helping at the library. The other is Tier II: I am the writer of this blog (part of the marketing department), a position which involves sourcing material, writing content, and adhering to deadlines set by my supervisor.

The process of becoming a Life-Long Learning Scholar works much like a job application. Students must complete an application form and send it to the supervisor of the position they would like to apply for, along with their CV/resume. If they are selected, they will be able to begin working every week and twice per semester receive a disbursement of their scholarship earnings.

To find out more about the LLLS program, I interviewed the Dean of Student Life and Engagement, Deborah Knaust. Keep reading to learn more!

Interview with the Dean of Student Life and Engagement

Dean of Student Life and Engagement, Deborah Knaust
Dean Deborah, can you explain your role within the LLLS program?
"Yes. I'm the Life-Long Learning Scholarship Coordinator, so I coordinate the program and I monitor the awards that students receive and make sure they meet the program criteria. Students are allowed to have multiple positions, but they can't exceed ten hours, so I monitor that. Essentially, I maintain all of the policies for the program. I work with the various departments at Franklin and I support supervisors. They often have questions, so I'm always communicating with different people about the program."

Have any changes been made in the program since you began working at Franklin?
"When I first began working at Franklin in 2015, I kept everything that was previously established. During the 2015-16 academic year, I conducted focus groups with supervisors and students and found out what they liked and didn't like about the program. I'm trying to make changes that are in line with those preferences. One example was that many felt they didn't have enough information about the award they would receive, so once all the positions are settled each semester, I communicate with each student and tell them the award for each of the positions they have and what the disbursement dates are. I'm trying to establish better communication. Another change I'm trying to implement are the tiers within the program, where new students would start with a simpler, service-oriented position, and then work their way up to more complex and dynamic positions that might require more critical thinking and more advanced skills. At this time, we have identified the tiers, and the positions in the different tiers, and my goal is to provide increased award amounts for tier II positions."

How many LLLS positions are there at Franklin?
"For this academic year there were 185 positions, although some were fall semester only and some are only for spring depending on the situation. It's important to know, too, that the orientation mentors [who work before the semester begins] receive an LLLS award."

What areas within the university offer LLLS positions?
"I would say almost every area of the institution offers LLLS positions, including Reception, the Bookstore, my Office, the Registrar, the Bursar, the Library, and some professors who have research assistants."

Are most positions given for the entire academic year?
"The majority are. A few positions, like academic mentors and orientation mentor positions, are for one semester and there are more in the fall than in the spring. The LLLS Awards are disbursed up to four times during the academic year - two disbursements in the fall and two in the spring."

Franklin's Orientation Mentors (an LLLS position) play an important role in facilitating pre-semester activities and help new students transition to life in Lugano.

How does the LLLS program compare to work-study programs at other universities?
"I think that they are similar in giving students professional experience while they're still studying and allowing them to develop those skills. We want students to be able to walk away with some skills. They may not find a position exactly within their field, but for some students it is something new and it excites them; it might be something they want to study further. For others it really is just learning life skills. These are skills students will take with them in life -- that's why it's called the Life-Long Learning program.

On the other hand, it is a scholarship program; it's not a pay per hour program, so it's a bit different than students might be used to at a different university or college. Often, especially in the US, students might work on campus for an hourly rate and get work study money or funds for that hour. This is a little bit different; we want students to have a professional opportunity to enhance the academic information they're learning at Franklin, but it's a scholarship, so that's why students have to meet a GPA requirement and the other standards of the program."

Do you have an LLLS working under you, and what kind of tasks is he or she assigned?
"Yes. I have an LLLS student, and she does a lot of reporting. We work on the many reports I have to do for the university, and we also are developing an evaluation about the LLLS program. Essentially, she does various research projects for me, reporting, some data entry; it really depends."

How do you think the program has an impact on students?
"I think it allows students another opportunity to have a relationship with a faculty or staff member, depending on where their LLLS is situated, and I think it supports their experience by helping them develop skills that they wouldn't get in the classroom. Many students have worked in various parts of the university, so I think that actually allows them to really take ownership of Franklin. When students leave, they really feel they own Franklin in some way. For example, the Tone Athletic Center wouldn't run without students. So students really own it, and I think they keep that ownership into the alumni years."

What do you hope students achieve by being part of the LLLS program?
"I hope that students get to experience a lot of diverse working styles, and types of jobs and professions. I hope that it triggers an interest for them or helps them narrow down what they like or don't like in a safe place. If you hate your first job it's a hard start, so in a really supportive environment like the LLLS program, students can try out new things and know how it is to develop their professional skills."

Student LLLS experiences

In order to find out more about student perspectives regarding the LLLS program, I asked a couple of classmates to answer questions regarding their own experiences:


Gunnar Lundberg, Freshman studying International Economics

Why did you choose to be an LLLS and what made you interested in the program?
"I chose to be an LLLS because I was interested in being active within the Franklin community, and I saw it as a good way to get some practical work experience. It's also nice to get some money right before going on Academic Travel."

What did you think of the LLLS application process?
"I thought it was fairly straightforward. I filled out an application form that I received by email, and then just sent it to the supervisor of the position."

What LLLS position do you hold?
"I'm a Campus Safety Manager."

What have you learned in your time as an LLLS and how do you feel the LLLS program has prepared you for your career?
"I've really enjoyed my time as a Campus Safety Manager. Although I don't plan on making a career out of being a bodyguard or anything like that, my position has helped me develop many useful skills. As part of my position, I often accompany students who would otherwise walk alone late at night. A completely silent walk is super awkward, so I have to work on making small talk and starting up conversations, often with people I don't really know. I also have to contribute ideas as to how to make the campus a safer place for students, which involves a lot of brainstorming and collaboration."

What has been your favorite part about being involved with the program?
"I really enjoy meeting all of the students that I'm able to walk! It's always fun to hear about where people are from, and their experience at Franklin."

Why would you recommend becoming an LLLS to incoming students?
"Switzerland can get very expensive very quickly, so an LLLS position is a great way to earn some extra money. It's also a great way to get involved in the community, and it looks great on a resume."

. . .

Ethan Chong, Sophomore studying International Management


Why did you choose to be an LLLS and what made you interested in the program?

"I chose to become an LLLS primarily because of financial need. Although Switzerland is a wonderful country, the fact of the matter is that it is also very expensive, especially as a student. Thus, becoming an LLLS was an easy choice for me because it ensures that I have some money available to me when I need it. The other reason why I chose to become an LLLS is because I gain useful work experience from my position. I currently work for the IT department which happens to be the perfect fit for me because I have always had a strong interest in technology and would like to work in this area once I am finished with my degree."

What did you think of the LLLS application process?
"I thought that the process was quite easy and straightforward. From what I can remember, I had to give some basic information, available times, and my reason for being interested in the program."

What LLLS position do you hold?
"As mentioned previously, my position is IT support with the IT department."

What have you learned in your time as an LLLS and how do you feel the LLLS program has prepared you for your career?
"I have learned a great deal about interacting with people and helping people problem solve. In a position such as IT support you quickly realize that some things you consider to be second nature may not be second nature for someone else and you must learn how to best explain the way in which you reached your conclusion. In addition, I have learned a lot about the daily routine of an IT department and what things you must consider to ensure that everything will function smoothly. Given my career interest, I definitely feel that this program is helping me prepare myself because it offers real world experience solving problems and helping people."

What has been your favorite part about being involved with the program?
"My favorite part about being in the program is the knowledge that I gain. Since I do work behind the scenes, I have a deeper understanding of how certain things function at the university such as the networking, the services, etc. because I learn how and why things are set up the way they are through my supervisors."

Why would you recommend becoming an LLLS to incoming students?
"I would recommend joining the program because you have the opportunity to learn new things and interact with different people no matter what position you end up choosing."

. . .

I hope that this post was informative for anyone out there who might be considering coming to Franklin or applying for an LLLS position. As you can see, our university offers a great program that allows students to gain professional experience right here on campus!

Many thanks to Dean Knaust, Gunnar, and Ethan for helping me compile this post.

If you have any more questions about the Life-Long Learning Scholarship program, please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them or forward them to someone who can.


Arrivederci and till next time,



Gabrielle

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