Nursing and technology programs growing rapidly

Jamie Shearer

Credit: DKS Editors

While Kent State has quite a reputation for its fashion and communications programs, it has two colleges that are quietly growing.

The College of Nursing and the College of Technology may seem as if they have little in common but one thing they share is their growing population, according to enrollment reports from Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness.

Other colleges within Kent State have had relatively small growth, if not negative, in the past two years; but nursing and technology have been attracting students for similar reasons.

The College of Nursing

The College of Nursing at the Kent campus, including graduates and undergraduates, has increased nearly 20 percent since Spring 2007 – from 1,275 students to 1,526 students.

Curtis Good, director of student services for the College of Nursing, attributes that to a generation of aging baby boomers, diet books and healthy living.

“All these things contribute to a society that is really taking health care a lot more seriously,” he said.

One perk for nursing majors is the demand for nursing staffs in hospitals and the ease of mind in securing a job after graduation, with the option of relocating.

“We are one of the few majors who have over the last several years been able to say, ‘When you graduate, you have a job, and here’s what it looks like,'” Good said.

One internal factor that has helped the college grow is the accelerated program, which gives someone who already has a degree in another field the chance to get a nursing degree in four semesters.

The college is receiving three to four times as many applicants as it has seats for the program.

“As a working adult, you might be in a career field or occupation where you’re not getting much return and excitement for what you’re doing,” Good said. “You might not feel like you’re contributing to society. For those people, it’s a great way to retool and head back into the workforce.”

Graduate students have also contributed to the college’s growth, coming back for more education and specialization in certain fields.

But even with all these factors pointing toward major growth, the college has restraints that make its growth limited and incremental.

In a clinical format, the college abides by a 10-1 ratio of students to teachers. Other colleges add seats to a lecture format to accommodate an increase in students, but the College of Nursing has to work around the number of instructors to stay within this ratio.

Even so, the college is adjusting to the growth by trying to be more flexible and offer evening and weekend classes.

And Good is happy with the work the college is doing with its students.

“We know we’re giving back to the field,” he said. “Our faculty and staff are extremely proud of that.”

The College of Technology

Like the College of Nursing, the College of Technology has grown almost 20 percent since Spring 2007 – from 476 students to 570 students now.

And like the College of Nursing, its growing majors are in demand in the job market.

The college offers courses in aeronautics, applied science and applied business.

Verna Fitzsimmons, the interim dean of the College of Technology, said construction management in the applied science program is growing, despite housing being down.

“For some reason, our students are finding that their services are in demand, and they’re getting jobs,” she said.

The college is also getting more calls about manufacturing.

“In Northeast Ohio, we’ve lost a lot of big manufacturers, but we have a tremendous number of small companies that are making things,” Fitzsimmons said. “And those companies need people to fill their working slots.

“And so we’re starting to hear more and more calls about ‘How do I get into manufacturing? What do I need to know?'”

Fitzsimmons also said air traffic control in the aeronautics program is one of the faster growing majors within the college due to the airport expansions and the worldwide demand for air travel.

Similar to the College of Nursing, College of Technology students are finding jobs quickly.

“After graduation, the employment rate for students is close to 100 percent within three months,” Fitzsimmons said.

All of these factors working together have led to the college’s growth, and Fitzsimmons is excited about it.

“That’s the great thing about growth: You handle it as best you can,” she said. “Obviously if the college grows, if we continue to attract students, and we continue to keep the quality of programs that we have, which are very high, it would do great things for the college. It would mean adding new faculty, getting more involved with applied research.”

Contact faculty affairs reporter Jamie Shearer at [email protected].