Harding follows trends of other universities to offer flexible programs.
This year, Harding added the University College, which is the first college to be added since 2011. According to Harding’s official website, “The University College was established as the result of an initiative to address the changing needs of Harding students within the context of the evolving landscape of higher education.”
“[The college is an] academic unit that serves all students and all of the other colleges [and was designed to] keep pace with other trends and institutions in the United States,” Dr. Kevin Kehl, dean of the University College, said.
The University College offers various new programs and areas of studies as well as merging capabilities with previously offered programs. Programs included in the University College, like the McNair Scholars Program, offer opportunities for undergraduates to participate in workshops, intensive research, mentorships and graduate school preparation.
Furthermore, Harding’s new college provides academic resources like tutoring, career counseling and services, and Upward Bound. Though Harding has offered these programs in the past, it was decided for them to be included as part of the University College.
Additionally, two new majors, integrative studies and exploratory studies, were added to Harding’s catalog under the University College. Dr. Heath Carpenter, assistant professor of English and the first director of integrative studies, explained the significance of this customizable and flexible degree plan.
Carpenter said he has had students lined up outside his door seeking to customize their degree to fit their specific needs. Any student can now combine concentrations from various disciplines to better prepare for their career.
“Not all of what people want to study or how they want to prepare for professional school or a job has to be, needs to be or should be done through a particular major,” Kehl said.
Integrative studies is predicted to be a popular new major because of its flexibility, versatility and appeal to future employers. With the job market being as diverse and flexible as ever, students are seeking a way to make themselves more desirable to potential employers, according to Carpenter.
As a way to gain new skills and expand on what they already possess, more students are beginning to see the allure of integrative studies. However, Carpenter cautions students from choosing this particular major simply because it is “cool.”
Exploratory studies allows students to explore their options and talents with more freedom than a traditional degree plan. Many times, students come into college unsure of what they want to do, as both Kehl and Carpenter addressed. The University College hopes to help.