by Alyssa Gibson
QEP is a popular buzzword on Piedmont College’s campus, yet with it comes a growing problem: most students can’t identify what it is.
QEP, or Quality Enhancement Plan, is a five-year accreditation process that focuses on student involvement and bettering its undergraduates. “We are in our first year of the SACS accreditation process, and we’ve chosen to focus on undergraduate research and creative inquiry, global learning and leadership and community engagement,” said Julia Schmitz, director of QEP. “Our main goal is to improve student learning and get students more involved on campus. Studies have shown that the more students are involved the more likely they are to succeed through college, graduate on time, and get a job.”
With student success being their main goal, QEP channels their efforts in different ways. “We’ve had a Leadership Symposium, a T-shirt event, and a Maymester showcase. We were able to bring Maymester participation up from about 21 students last year to over 75 students now,” said Andrea Guillen, QEP student fellow for the Demorest campus. “We’ve had around 250 students participate in our sponsored events and we’re excited to see that turnout.”
Despite the success that it has had on campus, QEP is still seemingly unrecognizable by most students on campus.
“QEP has something to do with involvement on campus,” said Christian Castro, a residential student. “I really don’t know what it is or what it does, I’ve just heard the QEP is HIP lingo around campus.”
“I know it puts on events like QEP week, but I couldn’t tell you what it is,” said commuter London Cochran.
One theory Dr. Schmitz has for the unfamiliarity among students is the program is still relatively new. “We’re trying to make students understand what they’re working for, but because we are in our first year we can’t expect results overnight,” Schmitz said. “We have some events lined up in the future that will hopefully make the name and the goal more recognizable around campus.”
Although it isn’t universally recognized around campus, QEP is still dedicated to its original founding goals of bettering students. “The reason why it was created is to continue raising awareness for what we’re trying to do and the change that we’re trying to create so that it proves to other institutions and accreditors that we are working hard,” said Kanler Cumbass, an SGA President and representative on the QEP Steering Committee.
“It proves that we are engaged, that our students are learning outside the classroom, that the experiences as a college student don’t just affect you once you leave Daniel or Stewart Hall, that you’re gaining experiences in the global and local world as well as you’re gaining experience through service learning and undergraduate research. We’re working for our students, even if they don’t realize it yet.”