Different Students, Different Pathways: Watch the videos and read these scenarios below to find out how students with a variety of majors, passions, and career goals could make the most of their Pathways General Education experience.
Peggy: Civil Engineering major with interests in sustainable materials
Peggy is a sophomore Civil Engineering major interested in working with sustainable materials. In her freshman year, she takes the Seeking Sustainability courses GEOG 1115 and GEOG 1116 to fulfill her 6-credit requirement for Reasoning in the Social Sciences. While meeting with her advisor, Peggy learns that the classes she took also count toward the Pathways to Sustainability minor. Curious to know what other courses would count toward this minor, Peggy gets on the Pathways website to view the list of approved Pathways courses. She learns that 2 of the 4 remaining courses she needs to earn the Pathways to Sustainability minor could also count as general education credits in concept areas such as Critical Thinking in the Humanities or Critique and Practice in Design and the Arts. Ultimately, Peggy decides to complete the minor. Because Peggy follows her interests, she not only graduates with a minor showcasing her interests in engineering and sustainable materials, but she also makes herself more competitive in the job market.
Alex: Animal and Poultry Sciences major who opts not to complete their minor, but still benefits from Pathways courses
Alex is a junior pursuing the Pre-Vet option of the Animal and Poultry Sciences major. In addition to wanting to do veterinary work, Alex hopes to one day channel their love for animals into some sort of nonprofit work, preferably for an organization they lead. With this in mind, they decide to take a couple of courses from the Innovation minor that seem particularly relevant to their interests and goals. These include ENGE 2094: Create! Ideation for Innovation, a Critique and Practice in Design and the Arts option, and MGT 4094: Startup: Commercialization of Innovation, which counts toward Reasoning in the Social Sciences. Even though Alex doesn’t pursue the minor, they still get some relevant interdisciplinary experience, they earn some general education credits, and they meet a community partner through the Startup class who connects them with the leadership of a local animal shelter.
Davos: Business major interested in corporate communications
Davos is a freshman Business major focusing in entrepreneurship and innovation, and he is thinking about pursuing a minor that will complement his degree. His advisor gives him a list of Pathways general education courses that also count as introductory courses for various minors. Davos notices that one of the classes he’s taking for his major, COMM 2004: Public Speaking, is simultaneously part of the Strategic Communication minor and a course that counts as the Advanced Discourse general education requirement. Interested, Davos looks into the the minor, and he realizes the completing it would also help him to meet his design requirement for Critique and Practice in Design and the Arts, in addition to helping him complete some of his free elective courses required by his major. He sets up a meeting with his advisor to find out what paperwork he needs to submit to declare a minor.
Tia: History major interested in community health
Tia is a sophomore History major who is already thinking about going to graduate school, and she’s looking for paths that would set her apart. Her advisor suggests that Tia consider pursuing a minor that would not only complement her degree, but also help her complete some general education requirements. On the Pathways website, Tia discovers the Global Food Security and Health minor, which lines up nicely with her interests in community health and wellness. Upon looking at the minor’s required courses, she sees that she could fulfill general education requirements in a couple of areas – including Reasoning in the Social Sciences and Reasoning in the Natural Sciences – while taking the courses she is interested in to complete the minor.
Arnold: Engineering major looking at Alternative Pathway options reflecting his interests in public policy
Arnold is a junior engineering major with interests in public policy and infrastructure. He has met most of his requirements under the Pathways to General Education curriculum by taking a variety of courses in different concept areas. However, Arnold wonders if an internship experience might allow him to earn general education credit in Reasoning in the Social Sciences, a concept he still needs to complete. When Arnold tells his advisor about an internship opportunity with a state senator from his home state that would involve a lot of research and report writing, his advisor thinks an Alternative Pathway sounds promising. They begin looking into who might serve as the faculty mentor, as well as which courses he would need to take before and after his internship to complete the Alternative Pathway requirements. Arnold knows that an internship will provide invaluable experience and make him more competitive in his future career, and by pursuing the Alternative Pathway, he will also build on his academic experiences at Virginia Tech while developing additional skills in areas outside his major.
Elena: Seeking a BFA in Creative Technologies while deciding on her minor
Elena starts her freshman year at Virginia Tech interested in the Pathways minors she hears about at orientation, but a little uncertain of which one will best complement her major in Creative Technologies for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She thinks that either the Science, Technology, and Law (STL) minor or the Philosophy, Politics, and Ethics (PPE) minor each seem like interesting options that could also be relevant to what she is learning in her major. Since Elena isn’t sure which choice is better for her, she signs up for PHIL 1304: Morality and Justice, a Critical Thinking in the Humanities option that her advisor points out is required for both minors. In the spring of her freshman year, she takes PSCI 2054: Introduction to World Politics, a Reasoning in the Social Sciences option that is also required for both minors. As a result, she is able to wait until her sophomore year to decide on which minor is best for her, and she is still fulfilling general education requirements no matter what decision she makes.
Marian: Forestry major with interests in environmental legal issues
Marian is about to start her junior year as a Forestry major with a focus in forest operations and business. In high school, she took 13 credit hours of dual enrollment courses, including two semesters of first-year writing, biology, a biology lab, and calculus. As a result, she’s ahead in her coursework. With a little extra room in her schedule for free elective courses beyond the restricted electives required for her major, Marian decides to pursue a minor in Science, Technology, and Law so that she can explore related interests in environmental legal issues. Some of the courses she takes toward the STL minor count as free electives, while others fulfill general education requirements in Advanced Discourse, Critical Thinking in the Humanities, and Critical Analysis of Identity and Equity in the United States.
Todd: Biology major who transfers from community college
Todd is a high school graduate who takes some time off from school to decide what he wants to do in college. After working for several months at a local zoo, Todd thinks he might be interested in biology, so he looks into some courses at his local community college. He wants to fulfill some basic requirements there before transferring to a four-year university. Over the next couple years, Todd attends part-time and takes 30 hours of coursework in the Virginia Community College System, focusing on required general education courses for biology majors that will transfer to Virginia Tech. When he meets with an advisor at Virginia Tech to initiate his transfer process, he also learns about Virginia Tech’s unique undergraduate curriculum, Pathways to General Education. The advisor tells him that in addition to having transferable coursework that will count toward his general education requirements in Critical Thinking in the Humanities and Reasoning in the Social Sciences, two of his transfer courses could also count toward the Visual Arts and Society minor. Todd is interested in completing the minor if he can fit its required electives into his schedule and still graduate on time, so he contacts the department offering the minor to see if the courses he needs will be offered in the upcoming semesters.
Kate: Member of the Corps of Cadets majoring in Materials Science & Engineering
Kate is a member of the Corps of Cadets on the Citizen-Leader Track and a rising senior at Virginia Tech. A few times over the course of her undergraduate career, she considers completing either the Pathways minor in Organizational Leadership, which would earn her some general education credits in Critical Thinking in the Humanities and Critique and Practice in Design and the Arts, or the leadership minor offered specifically to Corps of Cadets members. However, as a Materials Science and Engineering major, she has a number of technical electives required for her major, meaning that she does not have lots of free elective space to take other courses. Most of the general education courses she has to take are specified by her major as well. As a result, Kate decides not to pursue either minor, instead opting to focus on the courses in her major since she knows she wants to go to graduate school. In the end, Kate completes all of her general education requirements along with the requirements for her major, and she is able to reference her experience from the Corps of Cadets to set her apart on her graduate school application.
Faculty and Advisors:
Please send feedback about the Pathways scenarios to Rachel Corell.