When Steven Pruitt applied to Daytona State College several years ago, he wasn’t certain he had what it takes to make the grade. At 29 years old, it had been a while since he sat in a classroom and he still wasn’t convinced he could handle the workload.
But an academic advisor recommended that Pruitt enroll in Daytona State’s nationally recognized QUANTA program and, looking back, he said that decision has made all the difference.
“QUANTA gave me a foundation,” he said. “It made me realize I can handle the workload required in three classes, as well as what I can anticipate having to deal with in my future studies.”
Now entering its 28th year, QUANTA is a freshman experience program that prepares incoming students to think and write critically across boundaries, to work collaboratively in groups, and to explore their individual creativity. The program integrates traditional college courses with a common theme and offers students the challenge of seeing and exploring the relationships between subjects and ideas within those subjects. Students register for three distinct classes - an English course, a humanities course and a critical thinking course - which meet from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each class takes place in the same room and, combined, is integrated into one, holistic learning experience with a common theme. For example, this coming fall semester the theme will be "The Quest for Community," where the courses jointly focus on the human journey to discover who we are and how we relate to others in society. Each class meets the general education requirements for the Associate of Arts/University Transfer degree.
QUANTA students are a diverse group, according to Daytona State’s Learning Communities Chair Casey Blanton.”They include the creative scholar, the passionate thinker, the shy student ready to make friends, the team worker, the born leader, the outgoing friend maker, the new high school graduate, the non-traditional student apprehensively returning to school and ready for a lifestyle change,” she said. “They enjoy taking college subject matter one step further and analyzing it. They like having fun in their learning environment and are bored by lectures and row-by-row classrooms.”
The collaborative learning experience is what drew 21-year-old Roman Balmakov to QUANTA. Balmakov will earn his associate of arts degree in spring 2012 and plans to ultimately earn a degree in human rights law with an emphasis on China. “The inter-relation of subjects was what I found very interesting, as I enjoy seeing different sides and perspectives on the same issue,” he said. “So, being taught concepts from the three simultaneous perspectives of sociology, literature, and humanities was something I found very gratifying. In the end, QUANTA delivered on everything I could have possibly expected.”
Blanton noted that students who complete one or two semesters in QUANTA have a significantly higher graduation rate. “These freshmen don’t get lost in the crowd and don’t fall between the cracks,” she said. “Even after completion of the program, friendships remain strong and faculty support is available.”
Pruitt, now 34, said he most enjoyed the camaraderie and skills he learned by working in teams with fellow students. “It helped me develop leadership skills and learn how to succeed while working with other people,” he said.
It also gave him the vision to continue his college studies. He will earn his Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management degree in December and plans to pursue a master’s degree in Educational Leadership to forge a career in higher education.
“My college experience has taught me that one class or one teacher can change a person’s life,” he said. “That’s what I hope to do. I want to make a difference.”