Beyond the classroom-The DelVal Experience
A chance to travel outside of the U.S. to compare food supply systems, study authors, fine arts or foreign policy. An internship helping with AIDS research or analyzing fossils in a paleobiology department. A semester-long student research project exploring solar power that allows a student to dive into a topic he’s passionate about. A chance to take landscape design skills from the classroom to the rooftops of Haiti to help people grow fresh, nutritious food.
These are just a few examples of the kinds of experiences Delaware Valley College students have had as undergraduates.
“At DelVal, we believe these experiences are just as valuable as the courses students complete and we don’t want students to leave campus without making the most of their four years here,” said Dr. Benjamin Rusiloski, dean of the School of Life and Physical Sciences and executive director of the Center for Student Professional Development. “Education goes beyond the classroom, it’s the complete experience -- academics, leadership opportunities in student organizations, internships -- where you really learn.”
That’s why, starting with the Class of 2016, all students are required to complete the new Experiential Learning Program to graduate. Their experiences in the program will be included on their transcripts to give a complete picture of their college careers.
This not only motivates students to make the most out of college; it gives them a competitive edge when they apply for jobs.
“We found in talking with employers that they want students who are not only discipline competent, but who can think on their feet, think critically, communicate well both orally and in writing, and work well with others,” said Dr. Rusiloski. “We started this program to prepare students professionally; not just from a discipline standpoint.”
Students in the program take The DelVal Experience I and II during their first two semesters, which prepare students with academic and professional development, teaching them valuable, practical skills to be successful as college students and as young professionals.
They learn to communicate professionally, network, find professional organizations and community groups to get involved with, dress for success and write resumes.
Credit-bearing experiential learning activities include options such as: study abroad, internships, student teaching, career exploration, specially-designed experiential learning courses, and student research.
Non-credit-bearing activities include options like: a 15-week leadership development program, civic engagement, and community service.
“We believe that this new program is a key part of our promise to prepare students with the knowledge and experience to tackle the most important issues of our time,” said Dr. Rusiloski. “This program is going to help us fulfill that promise to our students. It’s also going to give them a competitive edge over students at other institutions. When they go out and apply for jobs and graduate and professional school, DelVal is going to be at the top of the chart.”