After more than a decade in the field of graphic design, Dave Hunt decided it was time to finish a project he had started long ago.
Twelve years had passed since Hunt's last college class, but he was ready to move forward, personally and professionally. He enrolled in the Bachelor of Liberal Studies program in the Center for New Learning at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, which accommodates nontraditional students through accelerated courses taught both in the classroom and online.
"It's a very different experience from what I was used to, but I like the flexibility and am impressed with the professors," he said.
Hunt also is impressed with the senior research seminar assignment, which required him to select a specific research problem and add to the existing body of research on that topic.
For the assignment, Hunt combined his interest in technology with the challenge of motivating the public to be politically engaged. He explored how social media impacted people's involvement in the 2008 presidential election, using social media itself to collect data.
"Facebook and other social network sites are definitely changing how people participate in politics," he said. "Candidates can't ignore these channels as a way to reach constituents."
The rigorous research requirement inspired Hunt to look beyond his May 2010 commencement ceremony and consider applying for graduate school.
"One of the benefits of the liberal studies degree is that it's broad enough to prepare you for many options," he said.