On the metacurriculum: Leveraging the college experience for lifelong success

Michael C Murphy, University of Pennsylvania


The reality that college holds the potential to enhance one's life is clear. Beyond the immediate education and resulting intellectual and artistic excellence derived from the curricular realm, the metacurriculum—the whole of the academy experienced largely outside the classroom—offers enormous opportunity to build a foundation for lifelong success. Moreover, institutions whose members intentionally embrace this full potential create a nurturing environment not just for students, but also for faculty, staff and members of the extended community. This study included extraction by in-depth interview of the perceptions of senior student affairs officers at 22 of the most selective institutions in the country, focusing on issues of institutional and personal vision, developmental issues faced by students, barriers and enablers in achieving that vision, and institutional strategies to that end. A particular emphasis was placed on the nature of gifted and high-achieving students and on the selective institutional profile. Developmental issues are presented in the realms of intellectual, artistic, physical, emotional, spiritual/ethical, social, professional, leadership and teamwork, and community development. Findings in each dimension underscore the shared mandate of all members of the community in realizing the ideal state of the academy. Concluding analysis outlines the obligations of presidents, senior student affairs officers and staffs, faculty and students in such areas as a unifying vision, a broad institutional mandate, a collaborative governance system, fiscal accountability, relevant institutional composition, the primacy of intellectual and artistic development, the commitment to broad-based human development, and a mandate for social responsibility. Potential next steps for institutions are outlined in the succeeding chapter, followed by summary conclusions and recommendations for further research.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Murphy, Michael C, "On the metacurriculum: Leveraging the college experience for lifelong success" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3124698.