School of Education Enrollments Climb, Despite the Pandemic

Nationally ranked School of Education online programming has given students the chance to work on quality programs at home or in class, thereby sustaining SOE enrollment growth.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 10, 2020) — Whether teaching and learning face-to-face, online or a combination of formats, the School of Education, says Dean Jason Lane, approaches its work with the same goal: strong course preparation that ensures a great learning experience for students — in SOE’s case, for a growing number of students.

This fall saw the largest class of graduate student enrollments for SOE in at least a decade, 1,075. In addition, an undergraduate major that didn’t exist until five years ago — Human Development (HD) — is now the 15th largest on campus, and the fastest growing, with 211 enrollees.

In a time where many programs in America are making dramatic shifts to online coursework due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SOE has needed much less of a transition than most. It’s been rated as one of the top 10 providers of online graduate education programs in the country for the past four years.

“We are also holding in person classes in strict adherence to all campus guidelines to keep students and faculty safe,” said Lane. “I’m teaching a ‘small’ first year seminar in one of our largest lecture centers — think 18 students in a room fitting 120 students.”

Nedyah Alexis, one of the newest SOE grad students, has seen many aspects of the School over the past four years. A May graduate with a degree in Human Development and a concentration in Counseling Psychology, she is a graduate mentor in SOE’s Touhey Family Fellowship Program and also worked on the hotline for Middle Earth peer counseling. She was admitted to the MS program in Mental Health Counseling this summer.

“During my time at Middle Earth, I met a few people that were in the Mental Health Counseling program, who all spoke highly of it, and really educated me as to what the program entailed,” said Alexis. “From then on, I did my research and spoke to the program director, who was very supportive and reassuring. The possibility of graduating in about 18 months gravitated me towards the program, and its commitment towards diversity as well.”

Brenda Ruscetta, a transfer student from Hudson Valley Community College, expressed similar positive impressions upon entering the Human Development program. “I chose the Human Development program because I have a strong passion to help individuals in the community that struggle with co-occurring disorders in mental health and addiction issues,” she said. “At UAlbany I hope to acquire the education and experience so that one day I can help others in their journey through recovery, so they may lead a successful healthy life.”

Lane said another positive feature of SOE developed over the years has been “robust” out-of-classroom offerings, which remain so through the pandemic. “From the Human Development Club to our many graduate student organizations, students have proven that we can stay engaged with each other,” he said, noting that the Human Development Club is converting to a full virtual experience — from philanthropic events to social gatherings.

“Last spring, the Educational Psychology students shifted their annual poster session to a very successful online format,” he said, “and, over the summer, the Educational Policy & Leadership students kicked off their e-brown bag series, bringing speakers near and far to our academic community.”

Lane said he also believes that SOE has “begun this year with a heightened awareness of issues related to equity and inclusion and the need to fight structural racism. These efforts have been at the core of our enterprise for the last couple of years as we have worked to make the School a more inclusive environment for all members of our community.

“We have much to share with each other as we listen, learn and take action to bring about positive change and aim to diversify the fields of education and mental health.”

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