College of Wooster

Worthy Questions - a program designed for students who wish to investigate their life's passions. Worthy Questions assists students in integrating personal, professional, and spiritual values by providing tools, models, and a community for reflection. 

Format

  • Audience: Students typically enter the program as first-years or sophomores and have mentors, who are adult members of either the College of Wooster or Wooster city communities. 
  • When: Worthy Questions is a year-round program that operates on a calendar year. New student members (Questers) apply to the program in the fall semester, and those selected for the program are matched with a Mentor at the kickoff retreat in January. Throughout the year, students meet weekly for guided conversation in small groups (Tuesdays, 7-8:30 p.m). 
  • Frequency: Weekly Conversations; once a month, that Tuesday time slot is held for large group, a time that both Mentors and Questers gather for a program that highlights a speaker or activity and dialogue relevant to the semester’s theme.
  • Approximate Number of Participants: Approximately 50 student participants and 50 Mentors. When graduating seniors depart in the spring, the community is reduced to between 30-40 students, plus Mentors. 
  • Focus of Retreat: Worthy Questions is a program designed to help students explore some of the ‘biggest’ questions they encounter during their college years. Questions like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What do I most value?’ find a home within the Worthy Questions community. Each student (Quester) is paired with an adult Mentor. Within this intentional community, students begin to draw connections between questions initially viewed as unrelated, and gain confidence in understanding and integrating their personal, professional, and spiritual values.

Funding and Operations

The program does not currently receive external grant funding.

  • External Support: Worthy Questions was born of an idea presented in a grant proposal for the Lilly grant program, Theological Reflection on Vocation. Though this grant was not technically used to begin the program, the grant was eventually secured and did fund the program for a time. 
  • Operations: Approximately $1500 per year.

Description

Worthy Questions is a program designed to help students explore some of the ‘biggest’ questions they encounter during their college years. Questions like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What do I most value?’ find a home within the Worthy Questions community. Each student (Quester) is paired with an adult Mentor. Mentors are recognized as ‘Questers’ too; they are simply a bit further along in their journey. Through one-on-one relationships, weekly guided small group discussions, and monthly large group topic sessions for a diverse, intergenerational community, students learn the worth of the questions that they are asking. Mentors and Questers alike are invited to respond to speakers, reflect on group activities, and to share honestly about their experiences and worldviews. Within this intentional community, students begin to draw connections between questions initially viewed as unrelated, and gain confidence in understanding and integrating their personal, professional, and spiritual values.

History

In 2000, The College of Wooster applied to the Lilly Foundation for a grant to develop a program entitled, ‘Lives in Service Scholars.’ The Lilly grant program, entitled Theological Reflection on Vocation, invited schools to propose ways in which they might encourage students to reflect on their sense of vocation. While the grant was not received at the time, the Worthy Questions program emerged as a focused and less expensive version of ‘Lives in Service Scholars.’ Worthy Questions sought to structure opportunities for students to investigate their values, perspectives, and commitments, and to assist them in making life decisions. In November of 2002, the College of Wooster was awarded a grant from the Lilly Foundation that allowed for an expansion of the program. 

Recommended Resources

  • http://www.wooster.edu/students/oicm/worthy-questions/  
  • Sharon Parks, ‘The Critical Years: Young Adults and the Search for Meaning, Faith, and Commitment’
  • Sharon Daloz Parks, ‘Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith’
  • Laurent A. Parks Daloz, Cheryl H. Keen, James P. Keen, Sharon Daloz Parks, ‘Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World’
  • Arthur W. Chickering & Linda Reisser, ‘Education and Identity’
  • Search 'Community' at Bowling Green State University: http://www.bgsu.edu/residence-life/learning-communities/search.html

Administration/Operations

Worthy Questions was born of an idea presented in a grant proposal for the Lilly grant program, Theological Reflection on Vocation. Though this grant was not technically used to begin the program, the grant was eventually secured and did fund the program for a time. The program does not currently receive external grant funding.  The operations costs approximately $1500.00/year.

Assessment

While specific components of the program are assessed (i.e. the yearly kickoff retreat), the overall outcomes of the program are not yet being assessed. (This is a goal!)