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College Case Studies & Success Stories

Purdue University


Amy Glenn, the Associate Director for the Office of Future Engineers shares how Habitudes helped develop career-ready students:

What challenges were you experiencing before using Habitudes?

Our student staff is coming in with excellent academic credentials, but in essence they are sometimes lacking the professional skills needed, where we as adults would assume they know certain basics.

As the second largest recruitment and outreach office at Purdue, our staff interact with families including high-level executives from around the world, and our student staff was having a difficult time understanding the need for certain rules such as the dress code. We kept asking ourselves: “Why aren’t they getting this? It just seems basic and simple to us.”

We had a choice; either get frustrated with the students, or accept the truth that they’re lacking something, and we haven’t trained them sufficiently.  We needed to figure out how to instill in them what they were missing because that’s our job… this is college.

What objectives or goals were you trying to meet by using Habitudes?

The goal was to develop the professional skills in our student staff, set clear expectations for the workplace, and help to instill the 20 Purdue Leadership & Professional Development Competencies.  These competencies are summarized in the four areas of: Communication, Ways of Thinking, Interpersonal Skills & Intercultural Knowledge, and Intrapersonal Awareness & Development. Since students are expected to talk to companies to get an internship or a co-op, we knew instilling the needed leadership and life skills in Habitudes was important for their work at Purdue, as well as to equip them to succeed in their professions.

One of the bi-products that we hadn’t anticipated was the way these conversations helped develop strong connections between students. Habitudes has really been that point where students can come together, meet each other from across the different shifts that they are working, and mentoring one another.

Recently I talked to a student about what her goals were with starting Habitudes and she said, “To become familiar with her office mates.” And then she noted that her goal was achieved.

What led you to use Habitudes?

Because the images are big and bold and the lessons are so simple and true, it just made it a no-brainer. I knew from my personal experience that the students would connect with the images because that’s how we explain engineering majors to high school students and their parents. For example, the way we describe the sixteen different majors of engineering that we offer here at Purdue is to show them a picture of a roller coaster. We then ask them what types of engineering would go into this rollercoaster. We have been doing this big picture thing for a long time, and found that images just work!

Did Habitudes effectively help you and your team?

Yes, yes it did. Students started to change their view on what to expect in the workplace and beyond. As a result, we are now more comfortable with our students meeting with families, VPs, and CEOs from around the world.

Also we have seen an 80% increase in adherence to office rules and policy. Regarding the whole dress code issues that we had in the past . . . those things are virtually non-issues now.

Is there a specific story of change that comes to mind?

During the Habitude Coffee Step, one of our seniors said that she was extremely anxious about graduating because she felt the pressure to have her life planned out. Graduating with an engineering degree, she believed that she should know exactly what her future was at this point. She was really stressed. During this Habitude conversation my colleague, David Bowker, and I shared all the random jobs we had experienced in our life. At the end students realized, “Wow, so I don’t have to have my whole life put together!”

This senior felt a lot calmer and it reduced the pressure of graduating. She knew that she had been prepared academically, is a great person and very professional. It gave her the confidence that doors would open for her as she walked down the winding path of her future career. She realized that she doesn’t have to have it all figured out right now.

Engineering students—especially those admitted into engineering at Purdue—are the results of an intensive admission process that admits less 50% of applicants. Many of our students have never received a B in their lives.

After getting to college and realizing ‘I don’t have a 4.0 any more…’ students get stressed and don’t know how to deal with it. Habitudes has helped us have conversations that equip them to handle these unfamiliar transitions and create new mindsets.

According to our Office Manager for some of our students the Habitudes images and conversations have seemed to open up new possibilities. Habitudes have changed not only their perceived notions, but also their attitudes, and how they go about things—as well as their behaviors, their intentions, and their perspectives.

Concluding Thoughts:

Throughout our life we learn many life lessons the hard way, which tends to take longer and can delay potential opportunities for success. Habitudes are valuable resources that allow students to learn these same life lessons in a shorter amount of time and an easy-to-grasp format. Our student staff tells us that they are not receiving these lessons or information anywhere else on campus. They continually share with us about how they are applying these lessons. In addition to the life lessons, Habitudes has helped to bond administrative and student staff together for a culture of mutual respect.

After talking with a student, she said:

“Habitudes gave me an opportunity to reflect on the current life path as well as on the next stage of my life and the decisions that will impact it. It helped ground me and analyze why I do things or have to do things in order to get to where I want to go. It helped develop professional and life skills to make me better rounded.”

Follow-up note from Amy:

I’m excited to share that OFE has been awarded the 2017 Team College of Engineering Team Award for the leadership and professional development of current students through Habitudes and for integrating current students in the successful recruitment of future students. The Team Award is rarely awarded to a single department and the criteria is for a team working across disciplines on groundbreaking transformational ideas.


Olivet Nazarene University

Beth Olney, Director of the Elwood Center for Student Success, shares how Habitudes was a key ingredient in the creation of a seamless freshman seminar program that allowed students to connect with each other, their instructors and campus resources:

What challenges were you experiencing before using Habitudes?

The main issue was the curriculum we were using. It didn’t fit what we were trying to accomplish. Many of the videos were oriented towards the business world. The information didn’t connect as well as we had hoped with freshmen students.

A change was made to use a curriculum developed by our own faculty. The chapters were thoughtful and scholarly, but most were not written with an eighteen-year in mind. Probably if these chapters were used with graduating seniors, there would be some great application. But it was just a little too heavy for eighteen-year-olds to process.

What objectives or goals were you trying to meet by using Habitudes?

Our goal was to acclimate students to college life, cause them to think about the person inside, and provide practical connections with people, ideas, and resources which could enhance their college career. We thought Habitudes could serve as a solid foundation for these weekly conversations.

Thirty-one groups of students were each led by an instructor and two upper class mentors who helped them explore such topics as decision making, boundaries in relationships, their values and much more.  We also wanted each session to be a safe place where students could feel free to ask questions on areas of concern early on in the semester.

Beyond that, each Habitude was used as a jumping-off place to talk about campus related topics pertinent to a new student.   

For example, we used the Habitude ‘Travel Agents and Tour Guides’ to talk about academic advising and what that process looks like. In reality, this person is half travel agent, half tour guide. While they don’t have time to be a tour guide, a mentor, for all their advisees, they play a very significant role in advising students as they persist on to graduation.

‘Baggage Fees’ was used to promote campus counseling services and all the resources that are available for students as they deal with life’s baggage accumulated over the years.

‘Pass on the Left’ was used to discuss Title IX and all that law entails for college students.  Most have no clue what constitutes sexual assault or harassment. 

‘Windshields and Rearview Mirrors’ was the perfect Habitude to talk about the roots of the University and that we stand on the shoulders of over 100 years of alumni who have gone before us.  But we can’t stop there.  It is now up to these students to carry on the mission and the dream of the founders and chart the next 100 years.

‘Shortcut or Second Mile’ was used to discuss the academic integrity policy and ensure students were aware of what it entailed. 

Has Habitudes effectively helped you and your team?

Yes, it has. It allows students to converse about things that matter. Instructors have told me what a difference the curriculum has made in the ways they have been able to connect with their students. One instructor reported, “This course has been called ‘Connections’ the whole time I’ve been teaching it. But this is the first year we’ve truly made connections.”

Another instructor led an activity at the end of the semester where she asked her students “What’s different about you now, as opposed to back in August?” One student replied, “I was scared to death in August, and I was bad at making friends.  I didn’t have any clue how to do that.” “Now,” she said pointing to two students, “these two girls sitting right next to me are my best friends.”

That doesn’t just happen; that happened in her group through the conversations and the vulnerability that was shared in her group. And that’s facilitated by the curriculum.

Concluding Thoughts:

Habitudes provides a great discussion starter, and lays a foundation for other important topics to be addressed. Furthermore, it is presented in a user-friendly format.

If you want a tool that will build relationships and connect students to their campus and each other, then this is it.


Southwest Baptist University

Nathan Penland, the Director of Student Activities at Southwest Baptist University shares how Habitudes helped new students transition and also develop more self-aware student leaders:

What challenges were you facing that led to the need for Habitudes?

We had two challenges. The first was for our student leaders on campus. They came to college not being equipped and confident to lead meetings and their peers. We needed tools and resources to train them to handle the struggles they’ll face each semester.

The second was for our new student orientation. We needed a new first-year reader—a book that would help an incoming student transition to our campus. Our old first-year reader was too heavy of a read and students didn’t engage with it.

How did Habitudes help you overcome these challenges?

For our student leaders, we’ve noticed an increase in self-awareness. Previously, I would ask them to identify their struggles. Then they would share their struggle and we’d talk it through. Now they’re coming to my office and saying, “I’m struggling with this . . . it’s like this Habitude.” And so now they’re able to recognize their struggles in leadership and their struggles personally, so they can deal with them. And the conversations often go deeper than just identifying the problem. They have become more self-aware.

For our new student orientation, Habitudes has been a great resource. So much so that one of our student leaders was so excited about Habitudes that during the new student orientation, he trained them in how to lead a Habitudes discussion.

This student leader told me that when he read Habitudes it changed his perspective on how college was going to be. What’s funny is he didn’t read it until after he got here. His story is… he got this book in the mail before classes, and he threw it on the couch. And he didn’t read it, didn’t even read it through welcome week. He didn’t think he’d struggle. He thought: You know my brothers have been here before, so I know this place, and I can figure it out. Then halfway through the semester he was struggling, and picked it up and read it. He said it changed his perspective on how he was going to handle his transition to college.

For me it’s helped to not be the sole focus for leadership development. With the help of Habitudes, these students can really help each other and encourage each other to be better leaders, which takes the reliance off of me.