Sioux City Journal. March 1, 2019
As a small private university located in a thriving community such as Sioux City, Morningside University has a distinct ability to offer a truly personalized university experience tailored to the unique interests and goals of a student. Three new programs that will roll out in fall 2019 are designed to build on that strength.
X Path, the Educational Enhancement Program (EEP), and Adventure are all programs that allow students with unique interests and needs an opportunity to gain unique opportunities and gain more experience earlier on in university.
“We are reaching out to different populations of students with these programs,” said Dr. William Deeds, provost at Morningside. “We expect these programs to increase the diversity of our student body in many ways, and that’s good for all of our students.”
X Path was designed as Morningside’s version of undecided. It gives students the ability to explore and consider their future, but the difference is that it offers a structured process to explore interests and ideas that matter to the student, said Dr. Alden Stout, associate vice president of academic affairs at Morningside.
“At other schools, students who are undecided on a major may be left to their own devices to figure it out,” Stout said. “We are actually giving them a very guided and structured path to help them effectively figure out what they want to do to be successful both in university and in their careers.”
Students may participate in the X Path program for as little as a semester or up to two years, receiving one-on-one support from staff and faculty mentors. Among other things, they will complete a strengths inventory, explore careers related to their strengths, and meet with professionals working in their interest areas.
Students on the X Path also have access to Morningside’s XP Guarantee, which is offered to all Morningside students and is the university’s assurance that students will graduate in four years or less and have a job or head to graduate school within six months of graduation, so long as they meet basic reqirements.
“There are students who have a lot of potential and want to go to university but whose previous academic work or test scores may not accurately reflect their ability,” Stout said. “We want to still give them an opportunity to be successful in university.”
The Adventure program is for students who want the flexibility and autonomy to develop their own educational experience. The program builds off of learner-centered programs already offered at the high school level.
“There are various high schools like Iowa Big that inspire students to take more freedom and ownership of their own learning – more ownership and independence,” Stout said. “And we think this program will be able to give those students an environment to do this at the university level.”
The Adventure program will give students the freedom to do everything from designing their own major to taking project-based coursework that focuses on solving real-world problems.
In line with this focus on real-world experiences, students in the program will receive a travel stipend to apply to a May term course or study abroad. They also will have the opportunity to build a co-curricular resume focused on real-world skills like leadership, civic engagement and career development, and they will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty to conduct research in their interest areas.
“Every Morningside student brings their own set of interests and ideas to the table, and all three of these programs allow students to build their time here in a way that works for them. These programs really build off what we are already good at while giving us an opportunity to get in front of some new students and families who may not have previously known us,” said Steph Peters, director of admissions at Morningside.