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Why students should take advantage of NIU PLUS

October 10, 2016

niu-plus-centerpieceHey, it doesn’t cost anything. And it could help you explore your interests, focus your studies, highlight your accomplishments and maybe even “earn and learn.” Best of all, it could help you get hired after graduation.

This semester, the university launched a unique program open to all students. It’s known as NIU PLUS, short for Progressive Learning in Undergraduate Studies. Through NIU PLUS, students can customize their learning experiences and make them stand out to future employers.

“We’re hoping students will take advantage of these unique NIU PLUS opportunities,” Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman said. “The program allows our students to make the most out of their individual college journeys by tying together learning experiences that happen inside and outside of the classroom.

“Students can turn every experience—from Gen Eds, to research projects, to college jobs—into an opportunity to hit the ground running on the path to career success,” she added.

NIU PLUS offers three components related to general education requirements, hands-on learning experiences and on- or off-campus jobs.

Academics PLUS allows each student to customize general-education courses according to personal interests, career aspirations or a major or minor area of study. Students can choose from one of seven “pathways” to explore topics or strengthen a major or minor.

For example, a student pursuing an environmental-related degree could take a complementary pathway in “Sustainability.” Or students who simply want broader perspectives might choose “Global Connections.”

What’s more, students have the opportunity to receive a “pathways focus” notation on their academic record. That way, prospective employers and graduate schools will see even more of the student’s accomplishments.

Engage PLUS helps ensure students are recognized for high-quality experiential learning activities outside of the classroom such as conducting research, directing a theatrical performance or learning from internships, service-learning or leadership experiences. There are countless possibilities.

“We encourage NIU students to step beyond the textbook and learn by doing,” Freeman said. “These meaningful hands-on activities drive home what is learned in class and equip students with new skills. Prospective employers will want to know about these activities.”

Working with faculty or staff mentors, or career supervisors, students can create structured experiences unique to their goals and interests. And they can earn academic transcript notations for these experiences, so prospective employers or grad schools are aware of these achievements.

Many NIU students work to make ends meet. “We believe there’s something to learn in every job,” Freeman said.

That’s where Jobs PLUS comes in. It is designed to help students build bridges between their college jobs and post-graduation careers. Jobs PLUS regularly hosts professional development events open to all NIU students. Through partnerships with employers, students could even be eligible to attend these events on paid work time. Frequently led by alumni, the events teach teamwork, communication, time management and other skills important in any work setting.

One program. Three components. Find out more about NIU PLUS