SMU-in-Taos adds new features to Fall program
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 23:03
In fall 2013, students will be able to experience college in a whole new light in SMU-in-Taos. This is the second time the program has offered a semester term.
“Few students at SMU seem to know they can spend an entire semester at our branch campus in New Mexico,” Michael Adler, executive director of SMU-in-Taos, said.
“It is one of the most exciting initiatives yet because it expands the educational experience of the Taos campus into the fall semester.”
As of the fall of 2012, students have been able to take up to 18 credits at SMU’s 300-acre campus, located at Fort Burgwin in Taos, New Mexico.
The site is a reconstructed pre-Civil War fort and the site of a 13th-century Native American pueblo.
“There are countless opportunities for exploration, learning and bonding with other students and faculty, that you would experience over three months in Taos,” Adler said.
Students have the opportunity to delve deeply into topics with SMU-in-Taos’ new three-block system, in which there are 23 days to explore the topics of the chosen block course.
In addition, business students now have the opportunity to take courses for a minor in the Cox School of Business, which were historically only offered in the summer sessions.
Unlike SMU, where students may take up to six classes at a time, SMU professors come to Taos and only teach one course at a time in much smaller class sizes.
“Students do very well in the block system concentrating on one course at a time. The environment lends itself to less distraction and students are more focused, thus increasing the opportunity for improving GPA's,” Anna Bland Aston, the director of operations and finance of SMU-in-Taos, said.
SMU student Brandi Cofer who attended the fall semester in 2012, said that her experience in Taos was unforgettable and allowed her to truly excel.
According to Cofer, the ratio of students to teachers allowed her to get her GPA close to a 4.0.
Cofer also explained how students can expect an experiential education. Due to the location of the campus, there is an emphasis on getting out of the classroom to go on topic-based field trips.
According to Adler, geology professor Louis Jacobs took his students to Carlsbad Caverns last fall on an overnight field trip to see the caverns and learn about caves and geological processes.
“Our history course went to Santa Fe to see where the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 occurred,” Adler said.
“I took an archaeology class to an archaeological site near Albuquerque that only a handful of the public has ever seen, and [students] got to help assess some research questions during that visit. Taos is hands-on learning at its best.”
In between the courses, students have three fall breaks. After each block, there is a four-day break where students have the opportunity to travel or go on organized trip.
“Last year we took students on the first block break to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado for a camping trip and for the second break, we took them to the Grand Canyon,” Adler said.
“For the third block break, we let students choose their own adventure.”
Although SMU senior advisor Jeanene Renfro understands students experience pressure to connect and select programs, friends and organizations, she believes Taos is a key way to boost both spirits and grades.
“The pattern during fall refreshes students so they actually can focus on each course,” Renfro said.
“Grades can improve when students use the Taos fall to create a momentum of academic strength.”
All students go through a brief interview as a part of the application process and will be accepted on a rolling admission basis.
According to Adler, the program will seek 50 “adventurous, inquisitive and self-motivated students” to come to the 2013 fall semester.
“Given the countless, amazing opportunities for growth and adventure and chances to excel, I expect there will be demand for places,” Adler said.
To learn more information about the program, such as the opportunities for all students to receive a $2000 scholarship, student housing in the newly constructed “casitas,” visit the Taos office located in the Laura Lee Blanton Building, or visit the SMU-in-Taos website.
“No other university has a campus like ours in Taos,” Adler said, “and we want students to know they can make the most of their education at SMU by coming [to Taos] this fall.”