Why Minors?

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Why minor? More than ever, it’s a question that Cairn’s incoming freshmen, as well as current students, need to consider.

For the Fall 2016 semester, Cairn students can choose among 28 minors to add to their curricula. Options span all six of Cairn’s schools.

“On the front end of a student’s academic career,” says Director of Admissions Becky Lippert, “minors help students explore career options. After graduation, they make students more marketable to potential employers and graduate schools.”

Such is the rationalization you typically hear from schools promoting minors, but many reputable colleges and universities still choose not to offer them. Are minors just a tool used by colleges to lure prospective students and help paying parents feel like they are getting their money’s worth? Or do they truly add value — particularly at a place like Cairn?

How Minors Serve Our Students
Dr. Brenda Mellon Ebersole ’03, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, would affirm that here at Cairn, minors definitely do add value.

For starters, she explains, “a minor formalizes what most of our students are doing anyway, because of how we do things here. It’s a way to make sure that the interdisciplinary nature of the courses they’re taking show up on a transcript.” Minors are a natural fit with Cairn’s integrated approach.

The diversity of minors not only reflects the nature of the curriculum, but also the nature of Cairn’s students. Lippert, whose team frequently
guides prospective students toward curriculum paths that will best help them achieve their goals, says, “Our students are ambitious, and they often have a unique, specific vision in mind.” Minors set these students up for a wider range of graduate school options and prepare them to pursue careers that combine subject matters.

Minors also allow students to pursue diverse interests beyond their career goals, such as performing arts. In these cases, minors serve as evidence that “they [our students] are more than just their major,” says Dr. Mellon Ebersole. “A minor shows another facet of a student, especially when it’s something a little removed from their major.”

From a practical perspective, a minor can demonstrate that a student has mastered skill sets “that, if someone had just a major, you wouldn’t be able to assume they have,” Dr. Mellon Ebersole explains further. For example, one of the most popular options, a minor in English, shows that a student has the written communication and critical thinking skills that are valued in nearly every job position. If someone had only, say, a business or social work degree, those skills might not necessarily
be a given.

With an undergraduate student body of about 700, Cairn balances tight-knit community and intentional discipleship with critical mass for the 60+ programs strategically chosen to further its mission. At the same time, with a diverse faculty and highly qualified adjuncts, Cairn is able to offer high-quality minors to provide specialized preparation within broad fields — for example, a communications minor paired with a business major. For students who find the University a strong mission fit — those who desire to study the Bible deeply, worship in chapel three times weekly, join a community of students who hold one another accountable, and commit to weekly ministry or community service — these major+minor combinations open a door to professional mastery in Cairn’s distinctive community context.

Saving Time and Money
For Cairn students interested in pursuing multifaceted courses of study, minors are one option for completing a well-rounded program without adding significant time to their degree program.

In light of the University’s distinctive core of 30 credits in Bible and theology, a double-major leading to the same degree (such as a BA degree with both English and History majors) can require up to 27 credits more than a single-major program. Studies leading to two different degrees require even more
additional time. (See sidebar.)

Since 2002, Cairn’s five-year dual-level programs have been a money-saving option for students who wish to pursue more than one degree, earning an undergraduate and graduate degree in related fields while benefitting from financial aid benefits typically reserved strictly for undergraduates. Currently, Cairn offers 19 different dual-level

However, for Cairn students seeking to finish a diverse college program in as little as four years or interested in more unconventional pairings, minors now make that possible. The 18- to 21-credit minors allow students to use electives in a focused way, adding a manageable number of additional courses to their time at Cairn.

What about a Bible minor?

A minor typically requires an additional 18 credits in a field. At Cairn, students take 30
credits of Bible and theology — more like a second major than a minor. However, the minimum requirement to add a second degree in PA is 150 credits total, as opposed to 120 for a single degree.

Earning a BS in Bible on top of another degree (such as a BSW or BS in Education), as students were required to do until 2012, added 6 Bible and theology credits, 24 credits of elective or professional credits, and at least one extra semester to students’ time at Cairn.

Beginning in Fall 2016, all graduating students will see a minor in Bible on their transcripts. In reality, though, the depth and breadth of biblical and theological training received by all students at Cairn goes well beyond the requirements of a true academic minor.

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