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President’s Letter to Friends of Boise State

Our Focus on Student Success After Graduation — Going Beyond the Major

I often get questions from parents and students about how our undergraduate curriculum prepares students for employment after graduation.

At Boise State, 4 out of 10 students are in pre-professional programs such as accounting, engineering and nursing that provide a high likelihood of a smooth transition from college to a profession. For the other 60 percent, most graduating with a degree in the arts, humanities or social sciences, the path is less direct.

A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania indicates that many jobs require a degree and a few years of experience. And there are plenty of jobs that require no degree and no experience. But there are frustratingly few jobs that require a college degree but allow for no experience. That means college grads have no choice but to take those jobs for which they are overqualified.

Let that sink in: If we are graduating our students with nothing but a traditional degree, they are leaving our campus without the prospects to use it. At Boise State, we are doing something about this. Every day we are working to preserve the arts and humanities that we know are crucial to society and our students’ long-term success — while sending them well-equipped to face the world beyond our campus.

One major step was the creation of the College of Innovation and Design and appointing to run it former corporate exec and start-up leader Gordon Jones, the founding director of the Harvard Innovation Lab. Jones and his team are charged with reinventing how Boise State prepares students for success beyond the diploma, reimagining how we can team up with community and industry leaders, and, in essence, creating a new vision for the higher education of the future.

The college has launched high-demand degrees far more quickly than traditional processes often allow, and developed research opportunities giving students the chance to tackle real-world challenges. Also new from the college: concierge-style academic programming for companies in our region and cooperative education opportunities that place students in workplaces around the city.

Perhaps most importantly, the college is leading the way in finding effective and attractive methods to augment our traditional majors. Unique collaborations with some of the nation’s premier private universities and innovators give Boise State students the chance to earn a certificate of readiness from the Harvard Business School (while amassing Boise State credit), or to master design thinking from the Stanford-launched creative agency IDEO.

Today, many of our colleges and departments are following suit. Bridge to Career courses in the College of Business and Economics deliver valuable business skills for the competencies employers are looking for. Students can earn a certificate in Design Ethnography that shows they have learned how to use the tools and skills of anthropologists to analyze corporate culture or boost marketing efforts. Our College of Arts and Science just launched a total alternative to traditional majors — working with students to complete three minors from across campus to design a custom major of their own making. New ideas are coming forward all the time.

Some would call what we are doing disruptive, but nearly all of these new ideas share one driving principle: higher education needs to deliver more than just a diploma. By daring to bend and break our own rules to deliver what students need, I believe Boise State is making a difference for our students and our state.

As always, we could not do what we do without your continued support. Thanks for all that you do, and Go Broncos!

Bob Kustra

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