(Hastings, Nebraska) – What’s new at Hastings College as it embarks on its 137th year? Everything.
There’s a new schedule. A new academic program. And new technology in the hands of every student. Plus four groups of sophomores are taking off this week — to France, Peru, Canada and Panama — as part of their international EXPL class, the new study abroad component provided for every student.
“We sometimes used the words ‘Hastings 2.0’ to emphasize the significant changes we were undertaking and preparing for over the last 18 months,” said Hastings College President Dr. Travis Feezell. “But today, all that innovation and creativity and hard work is who we are. We’re Hastings College, and we’re on a new, bold path. We think different, we take new approaches to a college education and we give students a unique experience that better prepares them for the world we live in today.”
As classes begin today in the first block of the fall semester, more than 320 first-year students, one of the top-five largest incoming classes in the school’s history, and 50 new transfer students are on campus.
“I’m excited for these students. They responded to who we are as a college and get to fully experience our four-year plan,” Feezell said.
The four-year plan includes:
Year one: First-year programming that builds community and Gallup’s CliftonStrengths to help students understand how they’re exceptional.
Year two: A study abroad component that provides insight into today’s connected world.
Year three: An internship, research experience or practicum to gain specific career- or interest-related expertise and insight.
Year four: A capstone project that demonstrates all a student has learned in preparation for a career or graduate school.
“Everyone on campus has worked incredibly hard to make all this possible for our students, and I can’t thank faculty, staff, our board, alumni and donors enough for seeing our vision through,” Feezell said.
New components of Hastings College today include:
At Hastings students choose a major, a minor (or second major) and an IDEA minor. An IDEA — an Interdisciplinary Emphasis Area — is a collection of courses crafted by faculty that allow students to hone in on an interest area or something they’re passionate about.
The major gives students the expertise and depth they need, while the minor and IDEA gives additional breadth and understanding for a successful career and life. Successful graduates are mentally flexible, excellent communicators, creative thinkers and able to solve problems — and the Hastings curriculum is designed to help students excel in all these areas.
The new schedule divides the traditional 16-week semester into a single two-week block and two seven-week blocks. During the two-week block, students take a single course, and during a seven-week block, students take one or two courses. Students will still take 12-18 credits per semester, just in this new format.
Students meet with professors every day, and teachers and students will have more time to learn and grow together in more intensive ways. Professors will only teach one or two classes at a time, meaning they’ll work with just 30-50 students at one time.
Study Abroad Experience
The travel initiative allows every student the opportunity to study abroad or study away—and thanks to donors, to do so at no additional cost. The EXPL travel courses occur during the two-week blocks during their second year on campus. A pilot program of 60 students went to France in January 2019, and this week four groups are going to different parts of the world, with additional travel groups leaving in March 2020.
Mobile Technology Initiative
Hastings College is providing every student on campus an iPad Pro and second generation Apple Pencil, with rollout happening before classes began this month. Faculty received iPad Pros last year and were upgraded over the summer to the latest model.
The initiative gives every student access to the same tools, which allows them create and collaborate. It also allows faculty to prepare classes and lessons knowing students will have the technology they need to complete them.
To help families have a better understanding of what college will cost, Hastings College is including all required textbooks as part of regular tuition. Some books will be digital and delivered directly to each student’s iPad Pro, and others will be print and available to pick up in the bookstore. The move saves students and families about $1,000 per year.
Every first-year student takes Gallup’s CliftonStrengths during their first few weeks on campus. With multiple Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches, Hastings College has built a culture designed to help students discover and build off what makes them exceptional — and understand how different strengths work together.