Since 2002, the number of declared Education majors at EMU among traditional undergraduate students has declined steadily. In 2002, 190 students declared education as a major, and in 2012, that number fell to 151 students. In other words, among the total number of students with a declared major, 14.7 percent of current EMU traditional undergraduate students have declared an Education major, compared to 20 percent in 2002.
EMU has always had a strong education program. Cathy Smeltzer Erb, Department Chair of the Education Department, talks about the education program at EMU.
“The program has a history as old as the institution. And it comes from an Anabaptist tradition focused on ideals of servitude, a sense of calling, and contributing to society,” she said.
Smeltzer Erb also mentioned that students who graduate from EMU with an education degree have a higher rate of being hired by many local schools. Smeltzer Erb, on numerous occasions, has had public and private school principals call her in order to point out names of EMU students in a list of applicants.
This, however, does not speak for the recent decline in declared education majors. From the year 2002 to 2012, the head count of traditional undergraduate students has dropped from 1,064 to 916, which corresponds equally with the drop in declared Education majors.
The national trends surrounding Education degrees also speak for EMU’s recent decline in declared Education majors. Smeltzer Erb mentioned the difficulties that arise when comparing political climates to education, but confirmed that the recent decline at EMU correlates with national trends.
The Education major is one that tends to lack appeal due to low paying rates and increased difficulty in finding employment post-college. But at EMU, the program is different. The major, despite its recent dip in numbers, still holds significance for the students involved. Junior Phil Yoder talks of his decision to enter into the education field.
“I want to help kids to have a desire to learn,” he says. “Those moments when you make a discovery and the light-bulb clicks, I want students to find motivation to make those discoveries.”
The EMU education program has seen declines recently, but it still remains one of the largest departments at EMU. EMU’s core Anabaptist-driven philosophies pervade the major, which perhaps explains its continued strength in the midst of a dip in numbers.