Nothing lost by students graduating in three years

Nothing lost by students graduating in three years

Ben Mulligan '14 found a way.

He found a way to immerse himself in two majors and take extra classes outside of those programs just because he was interested in them.

He found a way to sing in three ensembles with the Doane Music department – and at a church in Lincoln – each semester.

When he couldn’t get into an English seminar on William Faulkner, he found a way to turn it into a summer research project with English Professor Brad Johnson.

And he found a way to do it all of it in three years at Doane.

“It never felt overwhelming to me because I always really liked what I’m doing,” said Ben (pictured above), who enrolled in the fall of 2011 and is on pace to graduate this May. “I’ve never felt like, ‘Oh, man, I’ve got to go and read for English.’ I get to read Heart of Darkness or whatever it is.”

Granted, Ben averaged about 18 credits a semester on top of his involvement in music activities, but it was a labor of love. He has done all of the necessary work to receive Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and philosophy, putting himself in position to graduate early by transferring 24 credits from his high school in Shenandoah, Iowa to Doane. Those credits – 15 from CollegeBoard Advanced Placement exams and nine from dual-credit courses in conjunction with Iowa Western Community College – satisfied general liberal arts and sciences requirements.

Graduating in three years can and has been done at Doane. Ben will be among the next in line to do so, even in majors not currently guaranteed with the college’s recently-unveiled Three-Year Graduation Program. And for someone motivated to go to graduate or law school, he said he feels as if he didn’t sacrifice the full liberal arts experience for the sake of an accelerated undergraduate experience.

Quite the opposite, in fact. The self-described “curious” learner managed to take courses he wanted outside of his majors.

“I found opportunities to make it just as broad a base of education as it would’ve been (in four years), even though some of the requirements that were more general were taken care of,” Ben said. “Some of my favorite classes were things just totally outside of my major.

“I will be recommending liberal arts as long as I’m telling people to go to college. I don’t feel like I lost any part of that. I never felt like I was trapped in one curriculum.”

20140306_GrantHarms.jpgBiology major Grant Harms, another 2011 enrollee slated to graduate in three years, also transferred in a wealth of credits – 28, all told, earned at Crete High School. Instead of sampling courses like Ben, he used the flexibility of having general requirements taken care of to dive deeper into science courses and research.

“It helped me kind of wrap everything together and see how everything relates in science,” Grant said of taking only courses in his discipline the last two semesters. “I took organic (chemistry) last year and now I will be working for an ag-chem (agricultural chemistry) company that works with nitrogen stabilizers, a lot of chemistry-based ag products. So definitely my education at Doane will come in handy when trying to explain and educate farmers on how to use those products and why they’re helpful.”

Grant landed an internship with Dow Chemical Company in North Dakota for the upcoming summer, which he hopes to leverage toward a career in agronomy or business agriculture. He found his passion last summer, when he took a course through Doane and worked for a crop consultant in York.

“I wanted to start specializing for a career one day in agronomy or business agriculture, and I have my research background with the biology program,” Grant said. “That’s what Doane offered me – I’m able to understand higher-level chemistry and biology, but now I really want to specialize.”

Both Ben and Grant came to Doane as motivated students and, by accelerating their time at Doane, are a year closer to their futures. They took courses in high school to not only prepare them for college but increase their options while in college. Satisfying liberal arts and sciences courses beforehand allowed them to explore more classes, which helped them fine-tune their paths for post-undergraduate life.

Doane now calls itself the College of a degree in three because the new Three-Year Graduation Program recognizes motivated students like Ben and Grant. Academic advisors and professors helped the two find their niche and carve an expedited path toward their future.

“Because I’ve always enjoyed being at school and doing this kind of stuff, it was always more of a pleasure and the professors here were super helpful, too,” Ben said of his three-year experience. “I don’t think that a three-year program would’ve been possible for me at another school without such a close connection to the professors, particularly in my major, but across the board for sure.”

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