By Taylor Bradford ’19
As undergraduate students look to their final semester of college, finding ways to maximize those last four months can be intimidating. Acknowledging this daunting task, Gordon College has created a program that provides second semester seniors with an opportunity to advance their education in a new and cost-efficient way.
Gordon +, a new academic initiative as of this Spring, offers seniors with the opportunity to take graduate classes in financial analysis, education, entrepreneurial leadership, and artistic courses from the best colleges for photography and many other creative careers that will count towards an undergraduate and graduate degree.
When formulating what the program would look like back in July of 2017, Jewerl Maxwell, the dean of academic initiatives, worked with the College’s administration to answer the question: “how can our undergraduate students be connected with our graduate program during their final year here at Gordon?”
Their conclusion: a program where undergraduate students can forward their education, engage in intentional and constructive conversation with graduate students and professors, and differentiate themselves by their hard work and determination.
Alexander Lowry, the executive director of the M.S. in the Financial Analysis program, hopes to help students stand out in their desired career. He said, “You can differentiate yourself: to grow, stretch, and develop. That is what Gordon + is designed for.”
Gordon + has three options for seniors to take full-advantage of what the program has to offer and complete both their undergraduate and graduate degree in five years or less.
Expand Your Experience
The first of the three options focuses on students who will complete their undergraduate degree in the fall semester of their senior year. Instead of graduating a semester early, Gordon + allows students to stay an extra semester and take a combination of undergraduate and two free graduate courses to begin thinking about pursuing a graduate degree. By expanding students academic experience, this option enables students to complete an undergraduate and graduate degree in 5 years and save $4,800.
Accelerate Your Grad Degree
For students who are graduating in December, this option allows them to get begin their desired graduate degree with substantial benefits. By participating in Gordon + after they graduate, students will receive their first graduate course free, 50% off spring semester room rate, and save $4,150 as students are projected to complete their graduate degree in one year.
Jump-Start Your Career
For students who are on schedule to graduate in four years, this option helps them to begin thinking about what they want to do after college without having to commit to a full graduate degree program. Students are able to take up to two free graduate classes, maintain existing Gordon scholarship and grants, save $4,800, and all graduate credits will be counted towards both an undergraduate and graduate degree.
Students are pleased with the benefits that the program offers. Richelle Joseph (’18), an English major at the college, explained that by counting graduate level classes towards her undergraduate degree, she has been able to “start on higher education earlier in life and get a taste for what the coursework will be like. I’m saving a decent amount of money, and now I will have a graduate level transcript that I think might make it easier to “transfer” into a different graduate level program at a different school. I’ll be able to finish a M.E.D degree in about a year, which is crazy!”
All options require students to have a current cumulative GPA of 3.2 (as of July 1, 2017).
The program currently offers graduate courses in education, financial analysis, and entrepreneurial leadership. For the inaugural semester, nine students participated in financial analysis, three students joined education, and none enrolled in the entrepreneurial leadership program.
As with any pilot program, there are areas that will need improvement as the college looks to develop Gordon +. “Communication is always key,” said Maxwell, as he described that finding ways to explain this opportunity to students has been challenging.
Students enrolled in Gordon + agree with Maxwell’s observation, admitting that while they are pleased with the opportunities provided by the program, the communication between students and advisors could improve.
Joseph said, “It seems like there needs to be a small staff of Gordon + advisors who are skilled at both graduate and undergraduate registration who can make sure each student is on track with both entities harmoniously, instead of two separate advisors who have not been briefed on how Gordon + works.”
Part of a Larger Conversation
Although this program is only a few months old, it holds weight in a larger discussion that is occurring on Gordon’s campus about how to improve student’s college experience.
As they work on improving student’s experiences at the college, Gordon administrators are asking questions such as: “how do we do a better job, as an institution, in preparing our graduates?” and “what is going to give them the best possible experience during their senior year?” asked Maxwell.
The opportunities within the Gordon + program have readied undergraduate students to graduate prepared for what lies ahead after college. Visit us here at
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“With this class under my belt, some of the immediate stress of graduation is off my shoulders,” said Sierra Flach (’18), “I feel like I’ve gotten my foot in the door. Where and when I continue my education is up in the air for now, but, thanks to the program, I feel confident and prepared when the time comes to continue.”