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ERIC Number: EJ1082029
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1522-7502
The Case of the Capstone Course: Reflection and the Commonalities between English and University Studies (BUS) Students
Vosen, Melissa
Composition Forum, v17 Fall 2007
Students majoring in university studies are not unlike students majoring in English--both groups of students are graduating with a degree that is often hard to sell. Colleges try to recruit first year composition students--to join them in reading great books as well as writing the next great American novel. Students are told they will be qualified to do anything; after all, a degree in English makes them communication experts--with similar arguments being made for those obtaining a degree in university studies. Terms such as "well rounded" and "jack of all trades" are often used. However, despite communication skills, whether they range from adequate to excellent, it can still be difficult to find a job because, unlike the engineer or the architect, there is no one tangible skill students in English, or university studies for that matter, can say they have acquired upon graduation. Author, Melissa Vosen writes that she has experienced this situation first-hand as both a student and a teacher, and has witnessed it as an academic advisor to more than 200 undecided students a semester. Vosen describes a bachelor of university studies (BUS) degree at North Dakota State University (NDSU) as one in which students, along with their advisor, design the required curriculum and create a plan of study. Plans are ultimately designed by each student, but they must be approved by a committee before the student is allowed to graduate. For example, a student interested in attending medical school might pursue a BUS degree so he or she could take a mix of biology courses as well as psychology and human development courses--rather than just major in biology, premed option. The BUS option allows students to take the classes they want to take, and it is also very flexible for those who work full-time or have a family. Upon graduation, students are awarded a BUS degree, but no major, minor, or area of concentration is listed on their actual diplomas or transcripts. For one semester, typically their last semester, it is Vosen's job to teach these students who are pursuing a BUS degree. While NDSU is known for producing engineers, architects, and even pharmacists, regardless of what students major in, they are required to complete a capstone course. She explains what the capstone course for university studies entails at (NDSU) and its similarities to their first year composition courses. Vosen then demonstrates the importance of both of these courses; concluding that courses in which students are required to reflect personally in a public sphere promote both diversity and lifelong learning. Vosen suggests that what a university capstone course offers that courses in the majors do not are reflection-in-presentation, and academic diversity. The article takes the position that although English studies graduates may indeed lack that one tangible job skill that defines them in the job market, they are reflectors, they are life-long learners, and those are the attributes that make them most certainly employable.
Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Dakota
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A