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Cumberland innovates to stand apart
Dec 28, 2012 4:00 pm
Cumberland University will continue to stand out from the crowd in 2013.
University administrators anticipate increases in enrollment in the coming year.
“What we see as the traditional student population continues to grow, but at a slower rate – 5 percent during 2013 – when compared to 2012,” said Harvill Eaton, president of Cumberland University.
Eaton defines traditional students as 18 year olds entering as freshmen.
“The number of 18 year olds across the country is flattening,” said Eaton. “There will be parts of the country where the number of high school graduates declines. We continue to expect some increases in the Middle Tennessee area, but not necessarily at the rates that might have been seen four to five years ago.”
The number of nontraditional students – students who are not 18 years old – continues to grow at a rapid pace, though. University administrators project the number of nontraditional students to increase by 15 percent in 2013.
“How we program the educational offerings for those two audiences are very different,” said Eaton.
Nontraditional students are generally older and most likely have more work experience and possibly military experience. Often, nontraditional students work while taking courses.
“Some people can imagine going to college just to improve their world view,” said Eaton. “For most people, though, college is also a step toward a productive career. It’s aiming the student in the direction that will enable him or her to become employed and enjoy a long and successful career.”
Which is why the university plans to implement various measures to help students be more competitive in today’s job market.
Educational offerings in four key areas – the biological sciences, computer sciences and engineering, business analytics and accounting, and health professions – will see improvements to the current offerings and new offerings this coming year. Each of these areas is seeing strong demand in the job market.
While many universities teach the technical skills related to specific careers, Eaton hopes Cumberland can stand apart by also nurturing the interpersonal skills needed in the workplace. To do so, the university is creating the Cumberland Learning and Career Commons, which will open in late January.
The building will be a space for students to meet, collaborate and discuss coursework. A staff “I-specialist,” or information specialist, will be on-hand to help students locate information, and a career coach will help students and alumni in their job searches.
“What we’re trying to do is set Cumberland apart from the herd,” said Eaton.