By: Ayden Carpenter, Staff Writer
Four USM faculty designed a new course to help students transition into life after graduation. Launching into Life After College, a new core class, will begin next semester with a pilot course.
David Bantz, a professor of computer science, put together a team of professors that worked on a project researching ways to help people in stressful situations. After that project came to an end, the group decided to stay together and shift their focus towards people going through transitions.
The team, handpicked by Bantz, included Jeanette Andonian, director of social work at USM, Leonard Shedletsky, a professor of communications and Dennis Gilbert, a professor of media studies. The four professors are also academic advisors and had heard common concerns among graduating students about what they were going to do after graduation.
In early spring of 2017, the team began developing the course by conducting research through means of a survey. It was designed to determine what students at USM didn’t struggle with and what they struggled with the most, as well as to find common factors between students’ responses.
One of the most common behaviors among students, they found from their survey, was the concern that they had when they thought about what they were going to do after college. Their goal is to structure the class around academic discussions based around the readings, the reflection on their college careers, learning techniques that they’ve learned and how they can apply that to professional careers.
The course will be co-taught by Bantz and Andonian, rather than having only one professor.
“The co-teaching model benefits the students, because as much as the students are going to be part of the discussion, so are the teachers,” Andonian said. “The students can learn how the teachers interact and gain multiple perspectives on the transition from college to work life. This provides a unique learning experience that focuses more on the students than the academics.” Throughout the course, students will touch on topics such as professional goals, the process of analysis and even happiness.
When the team began researching other COR 400-level courses offered by universities, they soon realized that the options were “very little, in fact non-existent,” Shedletsky said. “The greater focus has been on the transition into college.” While other universities have COR 400-level courses, Launching into Life After College takes a different approach, as Andonian explained, “the goal of the course ultimately aligns with USM’s principles of being student-focused.”
The course will bring students from a variety of majors together to provide different aspects of academic history as well as provide a variety of perspectives on students’ goals for professional careers. All while challenging students both academically and individually throughout the length of the semester. Launching into Life After College has been in development since early 2017 when the team began to study students and their anxiety surrounding the transition from college to work life. The pilot course in the spring semester is currently offered to 15 students.
As Bantz explained, “The end goal is that the pilot will provide feedback to further develop the course in hopes that it will be offered by multiple professors at USM.” If any students have any questions regarding the course David Bantz and Jeanette Andonian can be contacted at ([email protected] and [email protected]).