New core curriculum gives students more freedom

Melanie Todd, Staff writer

The new Mercyhurst REACH core curriculum is officially implemented. This is the second change to the core curriculum within four years.

Initially, students were weary of another change, but many students like the freedom it brings to scheduling.

“At first, I thought the new core would be horrible, but once I looked at it I realized it was actually amazing for me. It is going to broaden my horizons. All in all, I think the new core is going to help out a lot of people to finish school in time and going to help out those who are not sure yet of what they want to do in the future,” Sarah Gaczewski, a freshman early childhood education major said.

Some students are finding new opportunities are available to them because of the changes.

“It helped me a lot. I only have a few more classes left to take. Hopefully, I will be able to study abroad with a light load because of this,” Sara Conklin, a sophomore Accounting major said.

Administration is very pleased to hear all the positive feedback from faculty and students alike.

“We didn’t realize the response would be as positive. The feedback from students has been very positive. I think because it is so student-centered. We feel students will have more opportunity,” said David Dausey, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The curriculum leaves room for students to take more elective classes from different areas of study.

“It’s been a long time at Mercyhurst since students can actually take a number of electives. Electives are an important part of the liberal arts education so students become well rounded and can be intellectually curious,” Dausey said.

Dausey, a Mercyhurst alumnus, found his passion after taking a public health course.

“There are some electives that just take off. Students will love them and want to take them. That in turn drives the faculty to be more creative and it’s just self-perpetuating,” Dausey said.

Many students are concerned of how the changes will affect their current transcripts and projected graduation dates. Academic affairs held a drop-in advising day to look at individual concerns and problems. Additionally, there are several faculty workshops to help with advising concerns in the future.

“For nine out of 10 students, it will put them in a better place than with the previous core. For most students the only thing that could have happened would be the electives were chosen for them,” Dausey said.

Students will not be able to get a minor by simply taking certain classes in the core. However, they will have room with the new core to take classes and get a minor in any area they may choose.

“Now you don’t have to double dip. We shouldn’t be prescribing minors to people. The core curriculum is general education. It is about breadth of study, while majors and minors are deepened study. If you are using it [the core] as a major or minor then it’s not general education,” said Dausey.

General education is one of the features of a liberal arts school.

“One of the huge values of coming to a liberal arts college is the general education. Employers want soft skills and that comes from your major but mainly the general education,” Dausey said.

The Freshman Experience aspect of the core seeks to set a foundation for those soft skills by includes an introduction to Mercyhurst and a research and writing component.

“There is a huge transition from high school to college. Your lives are completely different. Some transitions are better than others. We want to make that more level across the board,” Dausey said.

The core curriculum encourages students to think independently by taking classes from diverse disciplines.

“Students are forced to consider different worldviews, challenge assumptions and think introspectively about what they are learning,” Dausey said.