by Connor Dimond
With the spring semester quickly approaching and student registration starting, it is important that students, especially freshmen, start thinking about the benefits Juniata’s POE system presents. Fall semester is often the time that many students consider rethinking their POE path and their class choices in general. Although these changes can be really stressful, they still help Juniata students follow in the footsteps of the motto of “Think, Evolve, Act.”
It has come to my attention that many students do not fully understand what our POE system allows them to do. “POE” stands for Program of Emphasis, and unlike other Colleges and Universities where students declare a major, Juniata allows its students to select or design a class schedule that best fits their needs for the future. Advisors, who are educated in the field of study, review these schedules that the student has picked. So, a student could study biology, but Juniata does not call this a major — rather, a POE.
The benefit of this is that if a student does not feel that the classes required under a biology major fit what they are really interested in, they can discuss creating a POE that best fits what they would like to study and what they are interested in.
Many students take advantage of the POE system to create a degree that covers aspects from all areas of study. For example, a student could possibly study a combination of biology and art and title their POE “the exploration of cell biology as an art form.” The student would then take classes that cover the practices of biology and art as well as the other required liberal arts requirements.
The POE system Juniata offers truly allows students to dive further into their interests than a typical major would allow. This allows students to be well educated in a more specific area of study if they choose to design a special POE.
Out of this, the question of variety of study occurs. One may think that being able to design a POE that targets a specific area of study narrows students’ learning to only a few specific topics. Juniata tries to deter this narrow-mindedness by being a liberal arts college.
A liberal arts college is designed to educate students in a way that prepares them to lead active lives within society, which requires being educated in a variety of topics. Juniata requires students to fulfill requirements in the fields of fine arts and international, social, humanitarian, and natural sciences. This approach tries to tackle the problem of narrow-mindedness within a specialized POE.
Outside of a specialized POE, students still run into the problem of not branching out. Many POEs require countless classes that take up a lot of time in order to receive a degree. With the required courses labeled under each POE, it is difficult to force oneself to break away from courses that pertain to one’s major, no matter how minute. The liberal arts requirements that Juniata enforces still can be used by students to stay within their field of study and not branch out.
These requirements, also known as FISHN requirements, are good for promoting education in different areas of study, but students often do not realize that they are not fully taking advantage of what the FISHN requirements are designed to do. Students often take FISHN classes that are closely related to what their POEs are.
For example, a student with a POE in Chemistry could possibly take an art class called “Wine in a Vessel” to fulfill a fine arts requirement. Although the class is technically either an art or a natural science class, it does pertain to chemistry, which unofficially integrates it with a chemistry student’s POE. The student is therefore not really stepping outside their realm of education. It is up to the student to make sure that they follow Juniata’s motto of “Think, Evolve, Act” and make sure that the classes they decide to take fit that of a liberal arts education in order to further the ideas and beliefs of Juniata.
A liberal arts college opens up many doors to its students, and Juniata is among takes great pride in the progress of its students from their first day to graduation. With a school motto that is based upon the transformation of a student into a caring citizen, it is crucial that we as students force ourselves to grow. Juniata offers classes to help you step outside of your comfort zone; you just have to take advantage of the opportunity.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 4 Oped