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The Most Flexible Major

Posted: July 18, 2019 — Which major is the most popular at Fulton-Montgomery Community College (FM)?  The Nursing program might be a quick answer.   Another reasonable answer would be Criminal Justice or Business.  The true answer is General Studies.  More students enroll in the General Studies program than any other major at FM. This naturally leads to additional questions. What draws students to the General Studies major? Why do students choose the General Studies program at FM to meet their education goals?  In what ways do FM graduates of the General Studies program meet their goals?

A General Studies degree is the most flexible major that allows for a personalized approach to meet the goals of a student.  Traditional students, those who are enrolling at FM directly after high school graduation, do not always know exactly which major is a good fit because they struggle in knowing where their talents lie.  Enrolling in the General Studies program alleviates some of the perceived pressures students feel related to the need in identifying a prescriptive career path. According to The College Board: “In a general studies major you’ll build a broad-based education. You won’t learn the skills you’ll need to do a certain job. Instead, you’ll learn how to think critically, communicate effectively, and pull together knowledge from many disciplines–skills you’ll need to be successful in almost any career.”  The General Studies program develops dexterity skills and the ability to pivot in multiple situations.  These are also instrumental for the student who is a returning adult, the person looking to improve their career by completing a degree.  Earning a degree proves to an employer that you can set goals, follow through on tasks, and that you are well-disciplined. Regardless of a student’s goals, the General Studies program allows students to explore their interests while preparing them for a variety of careers.

Students have identified several solid reasons for completing a General Studies degree at FM.  The low cost of attendance is a popular motivation for students attending FM.  The ability to commute from home allows for a large savings in room and board charged by larger institutions.  This savings equates to tens of thousands of dollars for the student, particularly those students looking to transfer to a four-year institution. Most commuter students who graduate with a General Studies degree and plan to transfer to a SUNY four-year college often enter as a Junior having only paid for FM tuition and fees.  That is smart financial planning.  Beyond the financial advantage, students identify the small class sizes and connections with the faculty and staff as a highlight of their education experience.  FM’s faculty and staff work beyond the classroom walls as academic advisors, specialized support personnel, and club advisors.  This allows for students to work directly with faculty and staff in a collaborative fashion on common initiatives and goals.  Students gain confidence and leadership skills from many of these activities on campus, both of which are desired traits by employers.

Exploration is the core of a General Studies degree.  Students enrolled in the General Studies program focus upon their interests while engaging in general education and liberal arts courses.  This results in graduates of the major developing broad skills, which helps them to continue with their post-secondary education plans or to directly enter the workforce.  FM General Studies students do not limit themselves to a prescribed course of study and have reaped the benefits of the flexible degree.  Common career options for graduates include positions within non-profit and human services, government agencies, education and teaching, financial organizations, performance venues, and small businesses.  Students often choose to transfer to four-year colleges such as SUNY Albany, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Polytechnic, The Sage Colleges, or Hartwick College.  These institutions, in addition to others, have articulation agreements with FM that assists with the transfer process.  Perhaps the best kept secret are the 2+2 dual admission programs at FM where General Studies students are eligible to apply for simultaneous admission to FM and selected colleges and universities.  Currently, FM has dual enrollment agreements and transfer assurance with The College of Saint Rose, SUNY Cobleskill, Excelsior College, and Maria College.  FM has faculty and staff to help you navigate your path to the next step beyond your FM goals.

The General Studies program is one of the largest programs at FM because it remains flexible in a world where jobs come and go, established businesses get acquired, and a person is expected to maintain an agile skillset.  If you are looking for a way to identify your strengths, complete general education courses at a fraction of the cost of four-year universities, or move your professional career forward by adding a degree to your resume, I encourage you to take time and explore the General Studies program at FM.  It would be wonderful to have you as part of the FM community.

This article was written by Assistant Professor Dr. Jacqueline Snyder, Director of General Studies and General Education Programs, Accreditation Liaison Officer, Director of Institutional Assessment and Accreditation.

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