Every Tuesday, Sophomore Haley Unruh drives to North Newton to attend her children’s literature class at Bethel College. In fact, she is one of two students from Hesston College taking classes at Bethel this spring. Unruh especially likes the culture of autonomy she’s experiencing.
“I like the four-year professor mentality,” she said. “Basically they’ll provide what you need, but you have to get it done. We have more freedom but more responsibilities.”
Due to its size, Hesston can’t offer a wide selection of specialized courses. So students turn to other academic institutions like Bethel to further their academic experience. Hesston has agreements with several other academic institutions, including Tabor (Hillsboro), Central Christian (McPherson) and McPherson College.
And this is not a recent change. As Angie Brockmueller, Hesston’s interim registrar, points out, “It has been going on for decades.”
Cooperative agreements like these are based off of agreements started by a consortium of central Kansas private colleges and have been in place for decades. The consortium no longer exists as it did, but the agreement is still going on.
From criminal justice to higher level math, a wide range of classes are available for any students to take outside Hesston College. All it takes is some extra motivation and coordination between students and academic advisers.
“It’s available to anyone,” Brockmueller said. “It’s more a time issue.”
Driving back and forth to Bethel may seem inconvenient to some, but Unruh thinks it’s worth it.
“I like it,” she said. “It is mainly class discussion. The teaching style is different.”
Unruh says the course doesn’t require as much work than her other Hesston classes. So even if she is driving and taking time off campus, this doesn’t necessarily add to her work load.
Classes like Unruh’s count toward graduation and are easily transferable. To set up a class, academic advisors look into course availability and scheduling for each student. The coordination and financial work is then passed to Brockmueller. Credit hours are worked out between the two schools so that they don’t add into the price of tuition and are compatible with the two institutes.
Brockmueller likes that students have options.
“Taking classes at another institution allows student to leave their comfort zone and see how are things done somewhere else,” she said.