After only two years, the education minor has exceeded the long-term expectations of leaders in the UNC School of Education.
George Noblit, an education professor and the director of the minor, said in the first two years of the program, leaders have already reached a level of enrollment that they expected by the fourth or fifth year.
He said students are interested in the program because it allows them to explore topics in education outside of the traditional teaching track — it offers courses on education policy, culture in schools and other topics.
The school is currently accepting applications for the minor until Sept. 22.
Senior Michael Welker, a history major, said his education minor gives him the opportunity to explore his interest in education without committing to a major in education or a career in teaching.
He said his interest in education policy prompted him to get involved with the minor.
“The education minor helps put things into context for what (different policies) are like for teachers and students,” he said.
Senior Beth Niegelsky, a global studies and Spanish major with an education minor, said the minor can open more doors for students.
“It’s been helpful to learn about other opportunities in education that aren’t traditional classroom teaching,” she said.
Last spring, the minor graduated its first class of eight students out of the 60 students in the program. There are more than 100 students enrolled in the minor this year.
Noblit said the program doesn’t have an enrollment cap, but can’t grow too fast or there won’t be enough courses.
“We want the courses no larger than 30 students per course,” he said.
“We’re trying to balance course offerings with numbers of students who come in,” he said. “This year we will maybe add 50 students and will graduate 30 to 40. Next year we’ll do it again. We’ll go up 10 to 20 each year until we stabilize.”
Noblit said faculty had been asked to design new courses and he expects to have more courses offered next year.
“They want to make it more relevant for more students outside of the School of Education and have made a good commitment to meeting students where they are with their interests,” Welker said.
Suzanne Gulledge, a professor of middle grades education, said she feels positive about the future of the minor.
“I think that the challenges that public school and education (present) are so great that we need the collective thinking and minds of people from disparate interests to come together and think about education from a variety of points of view,” she said.
Noblit said the professors in the minor are top-notch.
“The minor is a chance for undergrads to have a close connection with very good faculty,” he said.
“These courses are designed for the young adult who is thinking about how education affects the world and how the world is affected by education.”
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