When we think of a typical college class, most of us picture a huge lecture hall with a well-dressed professor talking through a slide show. But is that really reflective of how students learn best?
At Verto Education, we think not. Verto students learn by experimenting, working with others, taking time for introspection, and seeing the world. Verto courses are designed with “experiential education” at the core, meaning that the coursework comes alive in the real world. Students take courses in engaging environments and have meaningful experiences inside and outside the classroom guided by their peers, instructors, program leaders, and community members. Through applying their coursework, students are connected to their lessons and take that new knowledge with them through college and into the rest of their lives.
Take a typical day on a field program, for example. Students attend classes in the morning, then apply their lessons in the field in the afternoon. For an Environmental Science course in Costa Rica, that lesson might be on sustainability and ecotourism from our expert instructors. Then, the instructor and cohort head out on an expedition to a sustainable hotel, where they get a behind-the-scenes tour of their solar water heaters, recycling, and composting systems. As an assignment, the students interview the manager of the hotel for their own podcast episode on sustainability. This is a far cry from just listening to a lecture and reading a textbook, as you might do in a traditional college classroom.
Verto faculty integrate these real-world experiences into their courses differently than a typical college professor might, as well. They are passionate about engaging students and helping them succeed – it is their sole focus, which is not always the case at a traditional university where faculty are expected to conduct research and earn tenure. Verto instructors are passionate and experienced in their field, like Meghan McGinty, the course director for our Global Health course. Meghan has years of real career experience in building public health and medical systems, helping blend academia and governmental public health to ensure a workforce prepared to meet future challenges. In fact, she is so integral to this cause, that she was called to help manage the coronavirus crisis in New York. In response, Verto students were able to make an additional connection with their new instructor, Beth Eanelli, who stepped in. Beth, a veteran Verto instructor, is especially passionate about maternal and child healthcare and worked with Meghan to deliver an interactive online course that our students enjoy today.
With expert guidance like that, it’s no wonder that Verto students feel connected to their course material. So connected that when paired with cross-cultural experiences throughout the semester, students find themselves gaining clarity on their purpose and goals. Through the mentorship of her Program Leader, Verto alum Jade W. converted her interest in helping children into a plan to pursue social work as a major. Another student who was interested in architecture was inspired by his sustainability courses to pursue sustainable urban design. Regardless of students’ major of choice, all Verto semesters are designed to match the general education courses that students need to graduate college, which means that a semester with Verto puts students on track to graduate in four years, without ever missing a beat.
Imagine stepping on campus in Milan and taking an Art History course called Leonardo da Vinci in Renaissance Milan. Rather than looking at slides on a screen, you take a trip with your cohort to see The Last Supper in its original location, on the wall of the dining room in the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Imagine taking a Cultural Anthropology course on the Big Island of Hawaii, studying the art and science of wayfinding with a Hawaiian star compass. Or even visiting parliament while taking politics in the UK. Regardless of your semester location, you’d be surrounded with like-minded peers who are pursuing a life full of purpose and meaning.
Verto students are transformed by the practice of experiential learning. We see that every day as students’ eyes are opened to new experiences, languages, cultures, and ideas. The benefits of starting your college career with this innovative approach go far beyond the Verto semester. When they return home, students stay in touch as part of a larger network of friends and faculty with whom they’ve shared a formative semester. As they continue their college careers, they have real experience to lean on and share, and they have clarity on how to take the next step.
Are you ready to make the choice to really learn and grow? To be a part of a global community that will impact your life, and in turn, be impacted by you? Check out our experiential education semesters in London, Madrid, Milan, the South Pacific, Latin America, and Hawaii.