By John Bailey firstname.lastname@example.org Hickory Daily Record
Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:38 pm, Tue Aug 30, 2016.
HICKORY – With local colleges and universities gearing up for their fall semesters, many parents and their children across the state have been having a classic discussion.
Should a student focus on chasing a degree in something more liberal arts related or follow his/her parents advice and study something more practical?
Lenoir-Rhyne University answers this with its Bridges to Dreams program, which allows students and parents to get what they both want.
“We’re already seeing a scattering of students majoring in liberal arts and then getting an MBA (Masters of Business Administration),” LRU’s University’s Provost Dr. Larry Hall said. “As long as you’re careful and you take the right math and you get the right prerequisites done…you just roll right into the MBA.”
A student could potentially finish up at LRU in five years with both a bachelor and master’s degree – depending on the program – taking up to 12 graduate degree classes in their senior year.
Bridges to Dreams consists of two types of programs – the Open Bridge and the Articulated Bridge, according to the LRU website. The Open Bridge program allows students to complete any undergraduate major and simultaneously begin coursework in a graduate program. The Articulated Bridge allows graduate level coursework to satisfy undergraduate degree requirements, shortening the length of a graduate program.
Students also can avoid formal admission applications, admission tests and application fees into a graduate program.
“You make mom and dad happy and the student also gets the background they want, and then they go out in the business world, I would argue, with a far better preparation because they’re well rounded,” Hall said.
“They have the communication skills, critical thinking skills that come with liberal learning as well as the professional preparation and the application in a field like public health or business.”
On the financial side, undergraduate students in the Bridges program will pay nothing more than the regular cost for undergraduate classes as long as the student takes the standard 12-18 hours of credits. Students also can qualify for up to a 20 percent discount on the remainder of their graduate courses after receiving their bachelor degree.
Jacob Slagle found out about the program in his sophomore year.
“I saw that it gave me a head-start on my future career; it gave me a sneak peak of whether or not I would actually want to pursue a career in Counseling,” Slagle said. “Offering the Bridges to Dreams program definitely influenced me to stay in Hickory and pursue my Master’s degree. It also saved me a pretty penny.”
There are limitations on which graduate program a LRU student can apply this option, but with nearly 30 masters degrees between all the school’s campuses and online, students still have many opportunities.
"The exceptions are generally those programs that have competitive entry, cohort entry like the PA (Physicians Assistant) program and our occupational therapy program," Hall said.
Slagle is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion with a minor in psychology. He is using Bridges to Dreams to get a jumpstart towards earning a Master’s Degree in Counseling.
The program does require dedication and planning by a student to get the most out of the opportunity.
“Many of the (graduate) classes meet only once every two weeks which gives me longer to complete assignments,” Slagle said. “However, it is hard to concentrate on the undergrad classes that are every other day and expect yourself to remember to do the work that is due weeks later.
“It is a difficult but awesome transition coming into a class full of professional adults. They welcome you in and treat you like a colleague who has already graduated and pursuing a career like them. The professors do grade more strictly and missing assignments or being lazy with work will come back to haunt you.”
Slagle will complete his undergraduate degree December of 2016, and plans on finishing his Master’s degree in Counseling in May 2018. After completing his bachelor degree this December, he will only have 49 hours left of the 61 hours needed to receive a Master of Arts in Counseling.
For more information, visit lr.edu/admissions/b2d.