3+1 Academic Partnerships: A Revolutionary College Program

Hooke College of Applied Sciences has enjoyed the academic partnerships established with both North Central College and Concordia University Chicago since 2010. These partnerships, known as 3+1 degree programs, are structured to capitalize on the strengths that each institution has to offer.  Students spend their first three years at their home institution and their final year at Hooke College of Applied Sciences, ultimately leading to a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Microscopy (North Central College) or Applied Microscopy (Concordia University Chicago). Variations of the 3+1 program are also available, such as completing a microscopy minor or selecting elective courses that can be applied to a degree in chemistry.


These academic partnerships are unique as they provide college students across the country the opportunity to gain valuable laboratory experience and hands-on training using state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation. This is a significant advantage to each student as they graduate and search for the opportunity to enter the workforce.

Classes at Hooke College are taught by renowned subject matter experts and draw on the academic expertise of their home institution. In just one year’s time, our 3+1 majors acquire over 1000 hours of practical hands-on training in solving materials problems from a variety of disciplines, positioning them favorably when applying for opportunities in today’s competitive job market. Two of our recent graduates, Marissa Bartz and Brent Platt, have already found success applying this unique credential. Marissa will spend this summer working at Factum Arte, Art Foundation in Madrid, Spain as she pursues her passion in art conservation. Prior to graduation Brent was offered an opportunity to interview for an opening at a state crime laboratory in Kansas as a result of professional contacts made during a polarized light microscopy course.

Programs like these are also important to employers who are seeking qualified candidates with in-demand-skills. As an employee of The McCrone Group (TMG), I learned long ago that to be at the top of your field you must constantly be engaged in your work and passionately looking for ways to acquire more knowledge. One common thread among many of TMG technical staff is that they started their career in science at an early age, some while they were still in grade school! Our employees’ relentless accumulation of knowledge goes well beyond the popularized “10,000 Hour Rule” referenced in Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers. Gladwell’s rule is based on a study carried out by K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues. In this study, Ericsson states that 10 years (or 10,000 hours) of deliberate practice are needed for a person to achieve eminent performance, a rule that holds true for both the arts and the sciences.

So what does Ericsson consider as deliberate practice? “Deliberate practice is a highly structured activity with the end goal being improved performance, requiring available time and energy, as well as access to teachers, training materials, and training facilities.”  This last part of Ericsson definition, access to teachers, training materials, and training facilities is what makes the Hooke College of Applied Sciences 3+1 programs not only lead the way, but standout among so many traditional college programs.

At Hooke College each 3+1 student is comingled in the same professional development courses attended by industry professionals. By learning alongside industry professionals, our 3+1 students hear first-hand about the work being done in a wide range of industries.  They also hear about the challenges these professionals face. As an added benefit they develop valuable relationships and networks with these same working professionals. To reinforce the analytical techniques learned during a course, each 3+1 student is provided a variety of unknown samples to be characterized during a second week of instruction. This largely self-directed “practicum” rounds-out a two-week experience where students have been immersed in an environment that encompasses Ericsson’s three important resources, teachers, training materials, and training facilities.  Upon completing the twelve required courses and the practicum projects required for the major, students will have logged-in over 1000 hours of specialized materials analysis training.

We see hundreds of students from industry each year attending our professional development courses, and very few of them have acquired this number of hours of formal training. As we learn more in the coming years about how traditional colleges and universities will answer the call to fill the skills gap that plagues many of our high tech firms, 3+1 degree programs like these will continue to provide employers with highly skilled candidates who can truly hit the ground running.


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