steepleCompass Program


Exploratory Excursions: A person preparing for a sea voyage checks weather forecasts and tide charts, calculates knots and wind speed, and researches offerings at prospective destinations. In a similar fashion, the Compass Program provides an opportunity for students to test the waters of personal and professional possibilities before setting their sights on a particular career. In many ventures, the role of passenger is comfortable and productive. Travelers take in the scenery, allowing another to set the itinerary and steer the ship. Analogously, in a course, the instructor selects the content and the route for reaching pre-determined goals or outcomes. Just as a passenger on a tour might wish there were enough time for a side trip or to linger at a particular location, aspects of a course may stir a yearning to discover more about a particular topic. The Compass Program invites students to further investigate selected areas of interest, and to be more deliberate about what they hope to gain from a venture, thereby creating a pattern of intentionality that can shape future activities.

Engagement with Others: In the context of both academic and co-curricular pursuits, students find kindred spirits and develop friendships that foster rich experiences. While the value of abiding relationships with people who hold common interests is indisputable, moving beyond the boundaries of the familiar can sharpen intellect and deepen understanding of quandaries that face humanity. A corporate executive views the economy through a lens tinted of a color other than the one employed by a theologian. Likewise an empty stage evokes contrasting visions in the eyes of a dancer and a comedian. A child growing up in the mountains of Appalachia gains an impression of the world that is remarkable to a young person whose childhood was spent amid the skyscrapers of Atlanta. The convergence of varied perspectives carries collaborators into unforeseen terrain, refining the inner compasses that inform decision-making, while often effecting positive change in communities.

Reflection: Often, after a journey, once luggage is unpacked and regular routines are resumed, the capacity for the trip to inform or influence daily life fades. In the whir of life's compelling demands, pausing for reflection may be considered a luxury. But taking time to consider what is gained from an experience enhances the impact. Many college students participate in myriad co-curricular pursuits. By orienting these activities toward goals that they determine, students heighten the potential to apply what they learn to future efforts. Each project culminates in structured written and oral reflection in dialogue with a faculty or staff member. Ultimately, succinct summaries, or précis, compiled into an "experiential learning transcript" quantify seemingly intangible results. When sent by the Office of the Registrar to prospective employers and graduate school admissions committees, this document conveys institutional support and investment that distinguishes Piedmont graduates.