3. Changing the Major

Another area under scrutiny is the college major, itself. New research shows that employers would prefer graduates to have a better understanding of how to solve problems and think critically in their fields which requires expertise in related areas as well. With so much of a degree taken up by general education, often only one-fourth of the classes are specialized courses in the field.

Most jobs in the workforce are not purely centered in one field but use a variety of skills from diverse complementary subject areas. As a result, many universities have started offering interdisciplinary majors. Some examples include:

  • Medicine, Science and Humanities major from Johns Hopkins University
  • Science Research Fellows major from Baylor University
  • Behavioral Neuroscience at Drury
  • Media, Culture and the Arts from Clark University
  • Electronic Business Marketing from Western Michigan University

4. Changing the “Credit Hour”

Finally, some progressive schools have started providing degrees based on skills, rather than the number of hours in attendance. This competency-based learning is focused on providing students everything they need to be successful in their careers.

In these programs, students save time in areas in which they have previous experience. If they can demonstrate mastery in the particular skill, they test out of those classes. Northern Arizona University offers personalized learning featuring this competency-based system in a few areas including technology and business management.

These programs are completely online and allow students to work at their own pace charging one fee every 6 months. Upon graduation, students receive two transcripts, one displaying skill competencies and the other detailing corresponding traditional courses. While still experiencing some resistance from educators, in time, universities will start implementing these changes.

Employers will benefit from this new system of educating because experiential and interdisciplinary learning provides new graduates more relevant skills in the workplace. In many cases, students will be able to finish college faster resulting in less tuition and a faster transition into the workforce.

About the Author:

Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a freelance writer.


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