This is Not Your Mom’s Southeast
A department chair is having lunch with an alumna. They are fondly reminiscing about their history at Southeast. The conversation shifts to the alumna’s son, who is applying to college. When the chair asks if he will be attending Southeast, the alumna responds, “no, I want him to go someplace better!”
It might sound harsh, but it is a sentiment we hear from time to time. So, can we as the Southeast community have an open discussion about pride and perception? Southeast has a past that includes being known as a good, regional university and as the cheap, local school. Let’s consider this: how many of us are the same person we were 20, 30, 40 years ago? We grow and change, but in our mind, the Southeast from which we graduated has stayed exactly the same.
The Southeast Missouri State University of the ’70s and ’80s, for example, is not the Southeast Missouri State of today. And, really, when you think about it, what hasn’t changed since the ’70s—disco anyone? That’s not to say that Southeast was bad. It’s not to say we aren’t proud of that Southeast. But as promoters of knowledge, it is inevitable that a university would continue to evolve, seek innovation, better itself. After all, isn’t that the very reason we all attend college?
Part of the reasoning from the alumna in the above anecdote could be attributed to the absolutely acceptable wish all parents have for their children to have everything better than they did. Understandable. Southeast is not synonymous with the prestige of larger, Ivy League universities. And, really only a very few schools fall into that category. What Southeast is known for is helping its students succeed regardless of their path or their history. Each student comes to us with an individual pursuit, and we strive to challenge them to achieve their goal. So why does Southeast miss out on the respect factor?
Once upon a time, admissions requirements were lower. Even today, Southeast is a moderately selective university, meaning those test scores needn’t be at the highest levels for admittance. If the University is committed to quality, why not bump up those requirements? Because Southeast’s very mission is committed to student success that contributes to the development of the region and beyond. What better way to develop the region than through an educated population. Southeast has an obligation to offer educational access for the region. That doesn’t mean we expect lower entrance exams for the region. It means that because we are pulling from a mostly regional area, those scores will be varied. And ultimately, the entrance requirements have zero impact on what is expected of students once they are admitted.
So, let’s discuss those expectations. Today’s students are getting more experiential learning than ever before. While that’s a great higher ed term,
what does it mean? It means students don’t just learn theory in class. Whatever major they are pursuing, they are doing the work before they graduate. Mass Media majors? There is a real newspaper, a real radio station, real TV programming and a real creative agency to give them real experience. Business majors? We have a business incubator where they can start their own business and run it while in college. They can invest real money in the stock market. Health studies students have two world class hospitals right here for real experience. Ag majors? How about a farm teaching everything from drone tech to genetics. Education majors? They’re in real classrooms their very first semester and integrating technology into the curriculum is a cornerstone of the program. These are just a few examples of what is happening across campus and across majors. And, it gives students the opportunity to see how what happens in the classrooms applies in the real world.
Beyond academics and career-readiness, there is also something to be said for learning about the world around us and being good citizens. From diversity initiatives to campus life programs to study abroad, we want our students to see beyond our campus. Part of helping them to succeed also means giving them the developmental support necessary to achieve those dreams. So whether it’s through tutoring, advising, counseling, Career Services, Residence Life, or Military & Veterans Services, we have a host of student services offices ready to be a support system and celebrate with them as they conquer their challenges. That’s to say nothing of faculty. Southeast has dedicated faculty who teach their own classes, know their students, and if you talk to them, you know they care about those students. Advice, BBQs, kickball games? Our faculty are all in.
Part of the pride factor can be attributed to the Missouri “Show Me” way. We’re skeptics who aren’t quite ready to take someone’s word for it. You can’t change a statewide legacy. But we will admit, sometimes we are bashful about sharing the updates, the accolades and the innovations with our alums.
There will be things Southeast will never be, but we are committed to always getting better. Much has probably changed since you graduated. We’d love to share these improvements with you and hear your thoughts on what can be better for our students. After all, we’re family.
Have suggestions or learn anything new? Have your own pride points about your time at Southeast? Please send us your comments via the contact form.
July 11, 2016
July 11, 2016
July 11, 2016