College Corner

A New Kind Of Higher Education


(NAPSI)—Colleges across the country are adapting to a new landscape in which prospective students are more carefully scrutinizing their choices. High schoolers are savvier than ever—more than a third now apply at nine or more colleges, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Applying to 15 or 20 schools is not uncommon, counselors say.

Driven by a desire to make a difference, today’s students want to know they’ll receive a solid foundation for both a successful career and a fulfilling and satisfying life. They’re looking for programs that go beyond the classroom and offer hands-on experiences and real-world projects. They’re also seeking mentors who will help guide them along the way.

With all of that in mind, they’re asking college admission reps everywhere a key question: How does your school guarantee graduates will get the most out of the experience and truly be ready for what comes next?

Small Colleges Can Mean Big Ideas

Small colleges such as Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, are on the forefront of offering new programs, in part because they’re able to move more quickly and can provide the kind of one-on-one relationships that students seek.

To that end, Drury is launching a new academic experience called Your Drury Fusion in the fall of 2019 that helps students customize their education while guaranteeing they’ll graduate with credentials in both professional and life interests.

In addition to majors and minors, Drury offers a growing slate of multidisciplinary themed certificates that cross intellectual boundaries, challenging students to prove and apply what they’ve learned. Each certificate is 12 credit hours and consists of three hands-on courses and a capstone project.

For example, a certificate in Graphic Storytelling combines courses in literature, art and publishing, and challenges students to create a graphic novel. Other certificates focus on data analytics, health and well-being, and environmental problems. All aim to teach students to think critically about projects or challenges.

Students can use the certificates to create projects that relate to their major area of study and add these to their digital portfolio upon graduation, giving them an impressive list of experiences to show employers and grad schools. The program guarantees that students will engage in at least three real-world projects. The students can even apply for grants to fund these experiences.

The program is based almost entirely in small and highly interactive learning environments. While many small schools boast a low student-to-faculty ratio, this program backs that up with small group discussion and team-based projects.

Mentorship is so vital that Drury gives every student a mentoring squad. A newly founded Compass Center matches students with their very own team of advisors to help with academic, career and educational success.

A 2018 survey of undergraduates by Civitas Learning found that about a quarter had gone more than six months without contacting their advisor—and about 3 percent had never done so. To address this gap, advising at Drury starts before students even hit campus.

Internships, research opportunities, study abroad trips and a vibrant on-campus social scene continue to be a part of the experience at Drury.

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