Colleges that offer hands-on learning experiences give students the opportunity to practice their field of study in an immersive, exciting way. At Western Colorado University, we make a point to provide students with non-traditional learning opportunities that get them in the field, so they can have a taste of potential career experiences and gain a better understanding of their studies.
The Value of Hands-on Learning Experience
Beyond preparing for the workforce, colleges that offer hands-on learning provide a more interactive means to master material. Oftentimes, getting out of the classroom can improve the retention of coursework; that is also why we also strongly encourage students to participate in extracurricular programs connected to their major and apply for internships in their field. With Western extended studies and experiential learning, you can embark on field expeditions, explore new cultures, build valuable leadership skills and earn credits while doing so.
Experiential Learning Courses, Labs and Research
There are several departments and programs at Western where students can have regular immersive experiences. It allows students to gain a deeper knowledge of their coursework and break out of traditional learning styles. By meeting experts in your field of study through trips and internships, you can receive fresh perspectives and up-to-date feedback from people in your eventual industry. Beyond the classroom, getting a realistic look at the day-to-day challenges and duties that a professional may undergo will provide you a better perspective and understanding of what lies ahead.
Learn More About Extended Studies at Western.
Getting in the Field: School of Environment & Sustainability
The School of Environment & Sustainability at Western is one of our best hands-on learning colleges, providing exciting field work opportunities around campus and the western Colorado region. As an Environment & Sustainability student, you could have opportunities monitoring forests on snowshoes, assisting in managing an organic farm, or installing solar panels in a completely different country. In fact, the students in the master’s in environmental management program have completed 80,000+ project hours on five different continents, in an effort to learn and create a more sustainable future.
Learn More About the School of Environment & Sustainability.
Learning While Teaching: Education Department
The education department at Western is one of the best colleges that offer hand-on learning. Participating in the education program at Western means undergoing a student teaching residency at a real school, learning how to navigate a classroom and real-world teaching environment. This is a challenging but extremely rewarding program, leaving students especially prepared after graduation for their career ahead. Post-graduation, we also offer the extremely popular Teacher Institute, a two-week summer session that is designed for educators that want to enrich their existing curricula.
Learn More About the Western Education Department.
Getting Out of the Classroom: Outdoor Leadership
Are you looking for coursework that regularly takes you outdoors? Western is one of the best hands-on learning colleges for outdoors enthusiasts and future outdoor leaders. As part of the outdoor leadership program, students take Outdoor Pursuits Education classes. It includes three separate lab classes that cover water based, snow based and land based education. The water based course takes place in the summer, teaching white water rafting, paddle boarding and kayaking. The snow based lab is taken in the winter, covering avalanche terrain travel, backcountry skiing and winter camping. Land based classes teach rock climbing, mountain biking and backpacking. All of the classes are taught with a basis in environmental education and leadership.
Learn More About the Outdoor Leadership Emphasis.
Find Your Competitive Side: Global Studies
Through the Global Studies emphasis, students have the opportunity to participate the Model United Nations. Throughout the semester, students learn about global issues and valuable public speaking and debating skills. This serves as preparation for the National Model United Nations event in New York City, where Western students can compete against other colleges through speeches, mock debates and policy-building exercises. For many, it is one of the most memorable and exciting experiences during college. Students not only travel across the US, but also meet people from all over the country and world.
Learn More About the Global Studies Program.
Using Your Surroundings: High Altitude Exercise Physiology
Exercise & Sport Science majors at Western have access to some of the best conditions in the world for their field of study. Located in the mountain town of Gunnison, Colorado, our facilities provide the optimal environment for students to perform exciting research in high altitude exercise physiology. In this program, you have the chance to learn in the state-of-the-art High Altitude Performance Laboratory (HAP Lab). In the graduate level of this five-year program, students can publish work in scientific journals, work closely with real clients, and shadow practicing clinicians.
Learn More About the High Altitude Exercise Physiology Program.
Study Abroad and International Opportunities
Other fantastic opportunities for immersive learning include study abroad, where students can take their courses in a completely different country. It gets you in a new environment and out of your comfort zone. Students can then hone a second language, experience culturally relevant art and architecture, or dive deep into the history of another part of the world. Study abroad and exchange programs expand your global perspective. They show students how to be better global citizens and observe other cultures.
Study abroad students not only get to live in a completely new place, but also travel to several other countries, all within the span of a semester. Western offers study abroad opportunities in Argentina, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, England, France, Greece, Harlaxton, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Thailand and all throughout the United States and Canada. Beyond the fun of travel, study abroad helps you become a more well-rounded, culturally aware and successful professional post-graduation.
Learn More About the Study Abroad and Exchange Programs.
Travel the World with the Anthropology Program
Through the Anthropology program, students attend trips to spots like Hopi Mesas, Great Sand Dunes, and Arches National Park. Field school opportunities take students to Italy, India, Belize and more. That way, they can build a broad geographical and temporal perspective of the biological and cultural adaptations of humans. Consider this major if you are interested in learning more about environmental issues, cultural relations, social inequality and how studying the past of humankind can inform the future.
Learn More About the Anthropology Program.
Internships, Practicums and Career Preparation
One of the most valuable hands-on learning experiences in college is an internship. Discovering the day-to-day work, challenges and experiences of professionals in your field gives a well-rounded picture of what lies ahead in your career. For certain majors, internships are applicable for course credit. Students that participate in one or more internships while in school have a leg up in the job market post-graduation. They’ll also have valuable real-world connections within their area of study. Some students even end up graduating and working for organizations where they interned.
Learn More About Internships and Career Preparation with Career Services.
Volunteering in the Community
With programs like LEAD (Leadership, Engagement and Development), students have the chance to volunteer on-campus in the Gunnison community. This not only looks great on a resume, but LEAD programs are specifically designed to build skills in leadership, diversity, and change and goal attainment. By participating in volunteer opportunities with the Sustainability Fund, Student Government Association, Orientation and more, you can diversify your skills and become a more active member of the campus and community.
Learn More About LEAD: Leadership, Engagement and Development.
Best Hands-on Learning Colleges: Gaining Real-World Experience
Whether you are taking part in an extended studies program, study abroad, internship or volunteering, there is so much to learn from real-world experience. That is why we pride ourselves in being among the best colleges that offer hands-on learning. Nestled in Gunnison, Colorado, Western is located in the Rocky Mountains. That means students have access to some of the best field experiences right in their backyard. However, we strive to also provide opportunities that take you into the wilderness, across the country and around the world. Mountaineers are adventurers and Western helps you discover extraordinary adventure while getting a comprehensive education.
Discover New Passions
Attending Western means being able to take advantage of one of the best hands-on learning colleges. Our departments, programs and courses have so many exciting extended studies to offer. Beyond classes, students can participate in the many clubs, organizations and teams available through the university. There, they can discover even more exciting opportunities to learn, meet new people, and gain memorable experiences.
Why Western? Colleges that Offer Hands-on Learning Experiences
By attending colleges that offer hands-on learning experience, you are preparing yourself for a career in your field of study. Recalling specific courses, laboratories and exercises equips you for the many real-world challenges and opportunities that arise after graduation.
Want to learn more about why Western is among the best colleges that offer hands-on learning? Discover our exciting extended studies opportunities.
Apply to Western Colorado University today to take the next step toward attending one of the best hands-on learning colleges.