To transition from sitting in a classroom being lectured to entering the professional workforce has a decent-sized learning curve. Students are faced with a massive life transition and have to make sense of brand-new expectations and different workloads. In response to this potentially tumultuous transition, Ball State offers professional experience and immersive learning courses from students’ first year to their final semester. Rather than applying for internships or part-time jobs, students can gather hard skills for their resume straight from their required classes.

In the College of Health, this may involve work in an on-campus clinic, organizing events, or performing research with a community business partner. This semester in the Exercise Science program, Professor Sarah Shore-Beck is instructing EXSC 305, where students develop personal training strategies, and then implement them in sessions with actual clients. In the past, this course was involved with clients from the Muncie community, but this year, the students are personal training Ball State faculty and staff.

The class itself is split into two parts: the first thirty minutes where students discuss and plan group warm-ups, and the final forty minutes where students individually personal train their clients. The course is very hands-on for the students, but the professor is never fully hands-off. Professor Shore-Beck closely monitors each student’s plan for their clients before they walk in the door.

“I have a planned protocol,” Shore-Beck said. “They put exercises into that program based upon what they see their client needs, their weaknesses in certain areas, their limitations in certain areas. They program based upon their client’s needs, but the program’s structure is pretty much my own.”

Professor Shore-Beck teaches several application-based courses from the 100-level to the 300-level, preparing students from the start to have a leg-up in their career. She is able to see students grow into professionals and apply everything they learned to actual work in her application classes and in the graduate level.

“Watching their successes is invaluable,” she said. “We’ve really transformed our program and [made] it something that we feel like the students will utilize with not only a graduate degree, but just an undergraduate degree as well.”

The push for students to apply their skills reaches beyond Professor Shore-Beck’s class. Some students have to opportunity to teach free Campus Recreation fitness classes for people on campus and in the community. Through service-based learning courses and extracurricular opportunities, exercise students have a leg up on their chosen career pathways, whether it be personal training, physical therapy, coaching, and/or occupational therapy.