Ave Maria University is excited to announce that it is now a participating institution in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which sets national standards for postsecondary distance-learning programs. SARA works to lower the costs and increase the opportunities associated with students taking college-level online courses from institutions operating in other states.
Approved participation in SARA is good news for Ave Maria University, which launched its first distance-learning program, JumpStart, in August 2017. JumpStart offers high school juniors and seniors the chance to enroll in highly affordable, fully accredited college-level courses, taught by Ave Maria University professors and offered entirely online. When enrollment for JumpStart first opened, its offerings were limited to Florida residents alone, but the expansion of course offerings and extension of the program to students in other states was always part of the long-term plan. With its approved participation in SARA, Ave Maria University is now in a position to move forward and open up the benefits of JumpStart to high school students nationwide. “Ave Maria University’s new Jumpstart program provides a wonderful opportunity for high school and homeschool students to earn college-level course credit from one of the finest classical liberal arts curricula available,” says Director of Admissions Karen Full. “We are thrilled to offer these affordable, online courses to students from all over the country.”
SARA is a voluntary agreement among participating states to a set of national standards for distance-learning programs with the goal of making it easier for students to take courses from institutions that are based in another state. SARA, which is overseen by a National Council, began inviting states to become members in January 2014. States become members through a process overseen by their regional compact. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), of which Florida is a member, approved Florida to join SARA as the 48th state member in August 2017. Once Florida was established as a member of SARA, the Florida-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (FL-SARA) opened up the application process in October 2017 for institutions such as Ave Maria University to seek approval to become participants in FL-SARA.
Starting next year, Ave Maria University will be able to offer more distance-learning courses, all available to students nationwide. High school students across the country will soon be able to reap the benefits of AMU’s online program, JumpStart, which is one step closer to the ultimate goal of offering more students access to quality Catholic postsecondary education at an affordable price. Registration for JumpStart is now open online for classes beginning January 8th, 2018.
“Joining SARA is a big step for Ave Maria,” says JumpStart Academic Coordinator Dr. Gabriel Martinez. “Not only does this allow us to serve almost the entire country, but also SARA institutions commit themselves to the highest standards in online education. By joining SARA, we are committing ourselves to developing high-quality, academically rigorous online programs in a manner that fulfills our mission and serves society.”
Students looking to major in Marine Biology now have that opportunity at Ave Maria University.
“We’re in a very unique location,” says Dr. Nicholas Curtis, Assistant Professor of Biology and chair of the department. Ave Maria University is located less than 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Directly South of campus lie the Ten Thousand Islands, and just beyond that, the Florida Keys. We are adjacent to Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and more. “We have access to unique marine and ecological environments which can really only be experienced in Southwest Florida,” Dr. Curtis explains. “We decided to take advantage of our location.”
Starting spring 2018, the Department of Biology will offer courses for the Marine Biology (B.S.) major and minor. These new courses, such as General and Chemical Oceanography (BIO 310), and Animal Physiology (BIO 403), will explore the environment and how it interacts with fisheries and oceans. “Students who study Marine Biology at Ave Maria University,” Dr. Curtis says, “will receive a strong core in science and, within that, a focus on the marine environment.”
Who might study Marine Biology? For starters, anyone interested in teaching, research, or industry consulting in the fields of marine biology or marine ecology will benefit from this new major. Likewise, students who seek government employment in the National Park Service or Fish and Wildlife Service will find that the comprehensive Marine Biology major is designed to meet their needs.
In the words of Robert Wyland, renowned marine life artist, “The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves.” What are you waiting for? Check out the Major in Marine Biology today!