Academic Plan - Letters Arts & Sciences
- Theme: The Elderly in the Social Sciences
- Subjects of Focus: HDFS, Sociology, Communication Arts and Sciences
My self-created major focuses on the fields of Human Development and Family Studies, Sociology and Communication Arts and Sciences. In my future career, I would like to work in social services for the elderly. The subjects that I plan to focus on will give me the skills I need in order to be an individual that is fully prepared to work in the field of Social Services, particularly in providing life-improvement services for the elderly within care facilities and the community. In the future, I would like to work with the elderly to improve their lives, and I want to be able to learn as much as I can about how I can accomplish this through the courses offered at Penn State Altoona that focus on human interactions and the subject of aging.
My first subject of focus that I know is essential to fully master in order to follow my intended career path is Human Development and Family Studies. Through the teachings of human development across the lifespan and the application of these teachings in a community setting, I will be better prepared to reach my goal of working in the social services for the elderly. However, while the Human Development and Family Studies major offered at Penn State Altoona is focused on specific career paths in the local community, I am looking to be more fully prepared to offer my skills in several different settings, whether in be in Central Pennsylvania or on the other side of the world. I will accomplish this with my other focuses of Communication Arts and Sciences and Sociology. Learning about these fields of study will make me better-rounded and prepared for whatever job market exists when I graduate. The field of Sociology focuses on the science behind human interactions. Learning about Sociology and applying what I learn outside of a classroom through higher level courses, internships, and day to day life will bring me closer to my goal of being an expert in the field of Social Sciences. The courses I take in Communication Arts and Sciences will give me valuable skills in effective communication, which is a great asset to have when working with the elderly and their families. The field of Social Sciences is very interpersonal, and relies heavily on communication with others. Therefore, it is important that I have the skills necessary to be able to sufficiently communicate with the people I am working with. The combination of these three fields of study will allow me to explore all of the subjects that interest me, while diversifying my skills and giving me valuable assets in an unstable economy.
Primary Areas of Coursework:
The following combination of courses will create the path towards achieving my academic goals in each of my three chosen areas.
Theory/Application Core Requirement: SOC 005- Social Problems
By taking this course, I will learn a great deal about a portion of the main issues that affect our society in the present day through an international perspective. This class content is very relevant to my interests in human development and interactions, and it will serve as an informational source for social issues that could potentially be affecting the people that I work with in the future.
Communication Skills Core Requirement: CAS 352- Organizational Communications
This course will allow me to work on my interpersonal communication skills in both formal and informal settings. This class will also refine the way in which I manage personal and professional relationships. By taking this class, I will be strengthening my abilities of communicating effectively in both my day to day life and my career, which is extremely relevant no matter what work setting I find myself in.
Research Methods/Projects Core Requirement: SOC 207
Research Methods in Sociology This class will enable me to apply the skills I have learned in my Sociology classes by utilizing “the four main social research methods: available data, survey research, experiments, and field research.” In my career, I would like to eventually do social science research focusing on life improvement for the elderly in America, and this course will give me a foundation of skills necessary to do this.
Critical Analysis Core Requirement: SOC 119- Race and Ethnic Relations
This class will refine my skills of understanding diversity and how to apply that understanding to my interactions with people by teaching me about the “historical patterns and current status of racial and ethnic groups; inequality, competition, and conflict; social movements; government policy.” This class will elaborate on my knowledge of diversity and will help me learn how to use that knowledge in a social services setting.
CAS 404- Conflict Resolution and Negotiation
One of the core skills in the area of communication is conflict resolution. This course will help me refine my conflict resolution skills and teach me “theories and strategies important for conceptualizing, developing, and managing conflict negotiation, mediation, and third-party intervention.” These skills will be an important asset to have in my projected line of work. I will utilize them when working to solve conflicts in the workplace, and also when working to help the elderly solve conflicts they are having and are not capable of solving them on their own.
HDFS 477- Analysis of Family Problems
In order to fully understand the elderly in America, it is important for me to have a detailed understanding of the entire family structure and the family problems that are affecting the elderly I work with. This class will educate me on the subject of families’ “behavioral, managerial, interpersonal, and financial problems and their interrelationships,” through research on different therapy methods utilized in family therapy. This knowledge will prepare me to be more efficient when helping the elderly have a more positive relationship with themselves and their families.
HDFS 411- The Helping Relationship
By learning about “theory and research related to interpersonal conditions which facilitate personal growth,” I will have a better understand of helping skills and how to effectively use them in a professional setting, particularly working to help foster positive growth for the elderly.
SOC 435- Perspectives on Aging
Through taking this course, I will get a more distinct understanding of the focus of my major through “An analysis of the demographic, social, and cultural factors affecting the aged population in American society.” I will be doing empirical research on the subject of the health care system in America while learning about aging in a social and biological perspective.
CNED 302- The Role of the Resident Assistant- Theory and Practice
“An analysis of the various roles of the resident assistant, including interpersonal facilitator, disciplinarian, program developer, and activities facilitator,” this class will serve as a hands-on experience of working with students my age in multiple roles. It will allow me to polish my skills as a communicator and leader, which are relevant to any workplace.
HDFS 249- Adult Development and Aging
This course will expand my knowledge of “physiological, psychological and social development and intervention from young adulthood through old age.” It also will teach me a good deal on how to understand working with older people better by seeing things through their perspective, and give me a more broad knowledge of the elderly population in America.
CAS 283- Communication and Information Technology
I am taking this class in order to better understand “Communication technology and information management.” I have taken several classes in Communications and Communication Arts and Sciences, and I would like to better understand the subject in terms of the technology that comes along with it. This course will give me the skills to incorporate information technology into the skills I have acquired, which I feel is something that the elderly could really benefit from, and will be much more utilized in the future when working with the new generation of elderly people.
Senior Capstone - HDFS 445- Development through Adulthood
This class focuses on the “fundamentals of program development and administration of human service programs in community settings.” It essentially will act as a summation of my 400-Level courses through hands-on work within the field of services for the elderly and empirical research on the subject of adult development. The combination of research on subjects such as the biology of aging, adult relationships and ageism will give me a detailed knowledge on the subject of adult development. I will be writing ten different response papers that cover all of these subjects, summarizing my knowledge on them and giving my own opinion. Over the course of the semester, I will also be writing a paper describing and planning the entirety of my life, from early adulthood to old age. This paper will prove my cohesive and extensive knowledge of adult development and aging through applying it to my own life. I will also be completing over 50 hours of service for CONTACT Altoona, an organization that provides helpline services such as reassurance calls, listening services, crisis intervention, and information and referral services in the Blair County community.
Career and Academic Goals
The LASAL degree gives me the opportunity to refine my skills and knowledge in the social services field, while taking the courses that I feel will strengthen my areas of focus the most. My main goal is to have a wide range of abilities upon graduating so that I can adapt to several different employment opportunities. My self-made major will give me the tools needed in order to be a well-rounded, educated, and skilled potential employee in the social services field, specifically working with the elderly. When I obtain my degree, I hope to find a job in the social services field as a human resources manager for the elderly in an assisted living facility.