Above: Teyako Bolden is among the CofC students who have found a pathway to their career goals and aspirations through the general studies program. (Photo by Heather Moran)
Do you have more than one passion or a career goal with very specific needs that are not captured in a single major? A simple solution is the Bachelor of General Studies.
Launched in 2018 and housed in the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance, the general studies major allows students to design a degree unique to their specific passions and needs. They can choose from the College’s more than 80 minors to create their general studies focus and have the option of learning online (both scheduled and at a student’s own pace) and in person.
“The Bachelor of General Studies is unique in that students can package what they want to learn,” says Alice Hamilton, general studies program director. “Currently, we have 55 general studies majors with 37 unique minors represented, which means that general studies students can be found all over campus.”
The general studies program appeals to a wide range of students — from the undecided to the focused and from the traditional to the non-traditional.
Take Evan Cooper for example. A member of the Honors College and the SPECTRA program for minority and first-generation students, Cooper was torn between diverse interests when choosing her major. Then she discovered the Bachelor of General Studies where she could create a unique degree in areas that suited her aptitudes and interests, which in her case are international studies and business administration.
Another student, Teyako Bolden, was reminded by her pre-teen daughter of the importance of following through on a commitment and decided to complete her college degree after an 18-year hiatus.
“Books and writing have always been a passion of mine … so I decided to complete a Bachelor of General Studies degree where I could combine communication with writing, rhetoric and publication,” says the mother of three, who hopes to build a career for herself in publishing. “I love the idea of combining two minors because I gain a different perspective.”
All general studies majors must take an introductory course (BGST 101), in which students read about interdisciplinary education and write reflective papers on the interrelationship of their two minors. They also have a dedicated general studies librarian guide them through using the library for their specific needs.
BGST 101 prepares students for their other required course, the capstone or senior thesis seminar (BGST 400), where students are assigned one big question that they all must answer around their two minors and submit a traditional or experiential research paper. For example, in lieu of a traditional paper, a student with business administration and studio art minors could prepare a business plan and write a supplemental paper explaining how the plan addresses the big question.
The BGST 101 and 400 courses are designed with graduation in mind. The program helps students prepare how to present their unique skills sets during an interview and to create an e-portfolio.
It’s not just being prepared for a career that makes general studies so appealing. It’s how the program is transformative.
“Through education, I have reimagined my bigger picture and have learned to value my successes, both large and small,” says Presley Mullinax, who chose psychology and communication as her two minors to enhance her goal of building a career in public relations. “I have learned what it means to be inclusive and accepting of all people and have readjusted my goals and personal values. I have discovered that general studies is not a means to an end, but it is an open door to endless possibilities.”