By Kevin Shea
In Fall 2018, Psychology will officially be a major at Paul Smith’s College, and with it, the school hopes to increase enrollment as well as diversify the student body.
“Psych tends to appeal to a maybe slightly different demographic than we tend to have now,” said Paul Smith’s College Provost Nicholas Hunt-Bull. “So, it may be slightly more attractive to female students… It may be more attractive to folks from the city, from urban areas, as opposed to some of what we have now.”
The administration also hopes that the new major will expand on the variety of students currently enrolled, as well as increase enrollment.
Vice President for Enrollment Management Peter Burns also cited a drop in two-year majors over the last 20 years.
“What has happened over the last 20 years is our associative programs—our two-year programs—have been just dropping slow and steady and it’s harder and harder to compete with community colleges, “ said Burns.
Hunt-Bull also explained that the major’s nation-wide popularity was another reason in creating it. General psychology is the fourth most popular major in the country, according to collegefactual.com in 2016, which calculated each major’s popularity based on those graduating that year. According to the website, 116,000 people graduate with the degree per year.
Although it has already been officially announced, and five psychology classes are being offered this semester, the recruiting cycle for new majors is 18 months, according to Hunt-Bull and Burns. Current Paul Smith’s students, however, can sign up for the major.
But, for those who come to the school and aren’t interested in majoring in psychology, it will be available as a minor, or a student could take a psychology class as an elective.
“If we have to offer a neuro-psychology class for the majors, many non-majors are going to find that class interesting. And so, we can fill that class. And so, we don’t have a problem that we’re having to pay somebody to teach a class that’s got five students in it, which only five psych majors need it. We’re going to have 15 non-psych majors in it,” said Hunt-Bull.
As to who will be teaching the classes next fall, a psychologist has already been hired to teach and another will be added either in January or next fall. Along with the newly hired, current teachers and adjuncts at Paul Smith’s college will help in the teaching of the new classes, according to Hunt-Bull.
But the new major has not come without criticism. Some alumni and current students were upset that the school was creating a new major instead of building upon those currently in place.
President Cathy Dove said that schools can do many things at once, and currently they will develop the psychology major and build upon other majors already in place. For example, Recreation, Education, Adventure, and Leisure Management (REALM) majors this year will look to utilize resources that were ignored in the past, i.e. John Dillon Park and the ropes course on campus.