General studies program grows in popularity

Azka Khan

Contrary to popular belief, attending a big, public university does not guarantee that students will find an area of concentration that appeals to them. In this case, they can transfer to another university that offers the major, or, in some cases, they can create it.

Kent State’s Bachelor of General Studies degree program in the College of Arts and Sciences offers another option.

“The Bachelor of General Studies is quite a complicated program because it’s completely individualized,” said Holly Clark, general studies program coordinator and adviser. “The quality of the degree is rooted in the students.”

The Bachelor of General Studies has been available at Kent State for more than 30 years. A major restriction on the program was dropped this academic year.

Originally, students in the major could take no more than 42 credit hours outside the College of Arts and Sciences. With the restriction dropped, the program has grown to about 150 students, with a majority of students at the regional campuses.

“This is not something for everyone,” Clark said. “It takes an individual that is self motivated and not afraid to approach people.”

Clark said students should come see her when they have earned 60 credit hours and have a concentration or major envisioned, but they can’t find their area of concentration within any existing major.

During this first meeting, Clark suggests all students have an evaluation, which consists of looking at previous coursework and remaining graduation requirements.

After the evaluation, Clark suggests that students have a consultation with the Career Services Center, which can help students focus and give them direction.

“When you graduate with this degree, you want to be sure that you feel confident and comfortable about your skills in front of an employer,” Clark said.

The degree program requires an application process, which includes the student’s rationale and formula of needed coursework. Clark said this helps her refer students to relevant academic departments and faculty that will help the student create a custom curriculum.

“This university has top-notch administrators and faculty,” said LuWanda Higgins, a 2006 General Studies graduate and Adult Student Center program coordinator. “A lot of credit goes to them because they are phenomenal.”

Clark said that students accepted into the General Studies program are not allowed to combine it with another major. However, accepted students are encouraged to have a minor or be enrolled in a certificate program.

Students who have already obtained a baccalaureate degree are not eligible for the program; however, students with an associate’s degree and adult students are encouraged to consider the program.

“It is a really great creative opportunity,” Clark said. “It’s a combination of a degree, experience and practical knowledge.”

Despite the advantages of the degree, Clark said there were drawbacks.

“Employers don’t really know about it, and it is up to the student to help the employer understand,” Clark said.

Graduates of the program have gone on to work at educational institutions, non-profit organizations and a variety of companies.

“If done well, the degree presents an integrated, well-rounded package that includes skills necessary for the job,” said Timothy Moore, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It is flexible and adaptable and shows that you can change with the changes.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Azka Khan at [email protected].

New Hire

The College of Arts and Sciences is hiring a new adviser to help with the Bachelor of General Studies degree.

The degree requirements have recently changed, allowing more students to apply to the program, said Holly Clark, current Bachelor of General Studies adviser.

The new hire will allow for more work to be done with the regional campuses and non-traditional students, who have more obstacles to overcome. The new hire also will allow for more flexibility, Clark said.

The College is currently interviewing candidates and hopes to have the new adviser in place by the beginning of October.

– Anna Riggenbach