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​Platform aims to connect students to research opportunities


By Claire Carpenter     1/23/18 9:24pm

All Rice students now have access to the Center for Civic Leadership’s newly-launched Student Opportunity Center, an online resource students can use to find learning and funding opportunities, journals and conferences, according to Associate Dean of Undergraduates and Director of Inquiry Based Learning Caroline Quenemoen.

Quenemoen said this site gives students instant access to thousands of opportunities, and was requested by students in the SA’s 100 Ideas for Rice’s Future initiative. Rice students can access the SOC by going to the website studentopportunitycenter.com and signing up with their Rice email.

“A centralized database to find research opportunities has long been asked for,” Quenemoen said. “CCL and IBL wanted to respond to the student demand in order to make access to opportunities easier and more transparent, especially opportunities on-campus.”

The CCL and IBL launched the Rice SOC platform in December. According to Quenemoen, discussion about the resource, which can be used with the CCD’s Handshake, began in July and continued throughout the fall.

“Unfortunately, there’s not one consolidated platform out there, and so one of the important things in the marketing for this is to understand that these platforms are complementary,” Quenemoen said. “Given the way things function right now, you have to use both.”

The website allows students to filter through the opportunities according to category or keyword. The site also has an ‘Interests’ feature that allows students to sign up for monthly newsletters according to their interested program, major or U.S. state. A ‘Participation’ feature allows users to track their progress as they apply to opportunities.

Quenemoen said the CCL is currently working on using the announcement function so that departments can send out Listservs.

“As OwlSpace phases out, we’re working on how the SOC can become a way for the different departments to get information out to majors using the announcement function that is in the SOC,” Quenemoen said. “That will probably be coming and students should expect to hear from departments and schools about how they are going to transition.”

According to Quenemoen, the CCL has shared a link with faculty and both Rice and Baylor College of Medicine so they can upload their local opportunities to the site directly. According to Quenemoen, the SOC already has 10,000 nationwide opportunities uploaded into it for all members to see. She said additional local opportunities from Rice and Baylor College of Medicine faculty will be uploaded onto the university’s SOC platform for only Rice students to see.

“Building up the Rice-specific opportunity is the piece that we’ve been working on,” Quenemoen said. “Hopefully those numbers will go up. The more students who are using [the SOC], I think the more opportunities we’ll see going up on the site.”

According to the SOC website, universities buy subscriptions to the SOC platform that vary in cost depending on the size of the institution. According to Quenemoen, Rice paid $11,475 for a three-year subscription, which will provide the platform and tech support.

“We will see how many users it has,” Quenemoen said. “If it’s getting a lot of traction at Rice and if it seems to be a resource that students, faculty, and administrators really take advantage of, then we would certainly continue using it.”

The CCL ambassadors will host a table outside Coffeehouse on Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday 2-4 p.m. to share information about the SOC.

“I think it’s really convenient to have access to a lot of opportunities all in the same place,” Meagan Hale, a Duncan College freshman, said. “I haven’t used it yet, but I definitely want to use it in the future.”

According to the SOC website, over 75 colleges and universities currently use the resource, along with 3,500 partner organizations and more than 250,000 students. According to the group’s website, students from Florida State University started the SOC in the fall of 2012. Since then, the resource has gained members and spread nationwide.

“I was really impressed by the breadth of opportunities that were available on the SOC,” CCL Ambassador and Duncan senior Evan Flack said. “I really hope that people utilize this because I think it is a powerful tool and you’re going to be able to find things that you didn’t even know existed.”

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