As May approaches at colleges and universities across the United States, the end of the academic year brings a number of rites of passage and end-of-the-year celebrations–from banquets to award ceremonies to graduations. Students are preparing for finals, saying goodbye to friends, planning for summer work and internships, and, for some, leaving the university for the last time.
Recognizing the closure of a community experience in the residence halls is important final learning opportunity for students living in the residence halls. When developing closure activities, there are a number of outcomes one may hope to achieve. These outcomes often include themes of reflection and celebration. Certain activities or discussions can further these outcomes. The following are some of our ideas for outcomes and activities you can utilize to promote closure.
Residents should be able to…
- Explain what being part of community means to them and how it impacted their learning.
- Evaluate the successes and challenges they encountered over the past academic year.
- Set priorities for the upcoming academic year or for their post-graduation plans.
- Celebrate the successes and achievements of others in the community.
- Develop durable lasting friendships and bonds.
- Leave with a tangible artifact that serves as a memory of their community.
Ideas for Closing Activities
Paired with group dialogue and discussion, or in individual conversations with residents, there are a number of activities that can prompt reflection or a celebration of community.
- Goodbye superlatives with certificates that can be distributed at a final community meeting.
- Ask each resident to contribute photos and memories that can be copied and distributed as a”yearbook.”
- Create a final farewell video or slideshow.
- Have the residents write letters to their future selves. Save these letters and send them to the residents in the Fall.
- Have residents write their name on the top of a piece of paper. Ask them to write as many answers as they can to the following prompt: “I am becoming a person who…” Have them post their answers on the wall so all community members can view them and reflect.
- Have residents bring a meaningful quote to their final community meetings and have them share the quote and why they chose it. Compile the quotes into small books to be shared with all members of the community.
- How does a final floor meeting fit into and/or culminate your curriculum for the year?
- How might closure activities be structured differently depending on the cohesiveness of a community or the class years of the participants?
- How might you involve student leaders (through hall council or other means) in the closure process?
- How can you help build alumni bonds and connection to the institution through the residential experience?