School of Digital Sciences’ enrollment increases drastically

Audrey Fletcher

The School of Digital Sciences has increased its student enrollment from three students to 97 students in its first year in existence, a level that was not expected until the middle of the third year.

“It’s a very popular degree. It is attracting a whole different set of students,” said Robert Walker, the school’s director. “It’s the set of students who probably would not have been at home in computer science or visual communication design.”

Walker said the school has been getting the word out by talking to students at Destination Kent State, speaking with advisors and communicating information to high schools in the state.

Freshman digital sciences major Nicholas Linscott said he found out about the school at an open house.

“I was going to go into computer science, but I found out there was a lot of math and theory and not a lot of application,” Linscott said.

Linscott said he asked the people at the computer science table where he could go to get the hands-on approach he was looking for. They pointed him to digital sciences, which is an independent school, meaning it does not fall under a specific college.

Walker said the school is designed to give students a broad overview of technology from multiple viewpoints.

Students are able to do this because the school is interdisciplinary, meaning classes are taught within a wide range of colleges across the university.

“We’re really breaking down a lot of silos here,” Walker said. “We’re spanning the university.”

While developing classes, Walker said he looked for experts in the areas of study he wanted the degree to cover. One of the school’s strengths, he said, is that it can draw from all of the departments in the university.

“So if we need to add a course in a particular topic and it exists somewhere else, we’re just as happy to use someone else’s course in our program and send our students there as opposed to be limited by what we teach in this building,” Walker said.

Walker said students in the school talk to people in a wide range of fields, which will enable them to communicate effectively when they join the workforce.

The school offers a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Science degree with six possible concentrations, a Master’s degree and an undergraduate minor.

“So you think of a career goal and we can take you through this concentration but then you’ve also still got some electives there, and with those electives you can really target that particular career,” Walker said. “You’re very unique unlike anybody else.”

Kathleen Levandowski, the academic advising coordinator for the school, said she thinks the students coming out of this program will be well-prepared.

“Each student I see, sees themselves in a different role and with this degree they can really prepare themselves for the life they want,” Levandowski said.

Sophomore Genevieve Rush said she sees herself working for a company that needs software development or technology help because it’s always been her hobby.

“I thought, ‘Hey this is something I do all the time, it’d be something really good to do as a profession,’” she said.

As the school continues to move forward, Walker said the focus is getting all of the upper level classes in place because the majority of students have not reached this point in the program.

Walker said the school is also pushing students to find internships and study abroad programs that would complement each concentration.

“There’s so many possibilities there and we can talk about all of those,” Walker said.

Contact Audrey Fletcher at [email protected].