How students go beyond the books with Agnes Scott’s signature immersive curriculum
The traditional model of internships and study abroad programs has long been a cornerstone of higher education. If you are old enough to remember college before the digital age, you will recall photocopied flyers posted across campus with clip art of the Eiffel Tower. But as we move further into the 21st century, it is clear that the old models no longer work to prepare students for the modern workforce.
Hands-on experiences outside the classroom have entered the picture and they are transforming today’s students and developing graduates that are more attractive to prospective employers. By prioritizing outcomes and access to real-world experiences, these programs produce graduates who are equipped to succeed in an increasingly competitive job market.
These changes in higher education are helping graduates claim their place in a rapidly changing world.
Major Companies Are Investing in Higher Education
Over the past few years, alongside the shift in the educational experience, major companies and organizations have also recognized the need to invest more in human capital, specifically within higher education. They want to invest in the student experience because these corporations recognize the importance of long-term professional success and identifying candidates who show the potential to make a real impact, not just graduates who look good on paper.
AT&T, Porsche Cars North America and BlackRock Financial are a few of these companies that understand the importance of investing in today’s students. They started offering students the opportunity to practice both leadership skills and career readiness by allowing them to embed within the company for an immersive externship. Students are able to observe day-to-day operations at AT&T or go behind the scenes of building luxury vehicles at Porsche. They can analyze and assess specific organizational challenges and opportunities or contribute to conversations and ideas at BlackRock Financial.
In today’s fast-paced job market, field learning delivers students an inside look into potential careers while letting them see if a company aligns with their values and philosophies. Students get a bird’s eye view of what the brand truly stands for and how they operate on a day-to-day basis.
The philosophy of investing in human capital, as opposed to material assets, has drastically impacted the types of experiences that we’re able to offer in higher education. We are no longer receiving solely monetary investments but instead, specific investments into students. And we have seen first-hand how philanthropy from these companies will impact generations of students.
Thinking Globally Begins with Learning Globally
Recognizing the importance of these innovative, hands-on experiences, The Delta Air Lines Foundation has funded a million-dollar grant to support a global immersion experience where students become involved in activities to better understand identity and culture in an interconnected world, while simultaneously studying a foreign language.
While the typical study abroad model is on the way out, comprehensive global learning has arrived, because thinking globally begins with learning globally. Standing in the middle of Milan learning how the fashion industry has shaped the city is infinitely more valuable than reading about it. Visiting a geothermal power plant in Iceland to learn about clean energy is infinitely more insightful that just hearing about it. These experiences cover topics from globalization and its consequences to the concepts of identity, self and ‘otherness.’ Students can see and learn first-hand the impacts of imperialism, colonialism and diaspora while practicing ethical travel. Visiting these locations through these types of experiences offers more than a tourist perspective.
We’ve seen students transform before our very eyes, developing new skills, building confidence, and positioning themselves for success in their future workplaces and the world at large thanks to the new reality of immersive, hands-on experiences. Agnes Scott’s Global Journeys program sends every first-year student on once-in-a-lifetime trips all over the world, and we have seen students return from these experiences with vast knowledge and understanding that we could not possibly teach in the classroom alone. We have been able to offer students well-rounded learning experiences through our SCALE program that provides second-year students with hands-on experience at large corporations and impactful nonprofits.
We believe whole-heartedly in the value of these programs because we have seen the life-changing impact they make.