Resource Magazine September/October 2014 : Page 5

about ag systems How do I select the school that is a good fit for me? The internet is a great place to begin your search. Many uni-versities provide detailed information about their programs, including course requirements, on their websites. (See page 28 for a list of universities and websites.) After you have narrowed your choices, visit the top schools on your list. The faculty, staff, and students will be happy to meet with you and show you their facilities. By visiting, you will get a sense of whether their program and setting is right for you. clubs or sports. Most schools have an agricultural systems club. Be sure to check out the ASABE student branch on campus. (See page 31 for more information about ASABE.) Can I afford the education? Typically, the cost of an agricultural systems education is comparable to most other college programs. These costs will vary depending on the school you choose. Paid internships can help pay the cost of your degree. Don’t let the cost of higher education prevent you from attending the college of your choice. Most students today need some kind of financial assistance. Numerous types of financial aid are available, such as grants and scholarships, loans, work-study programs, and part-time employment. They are available from many sources, including the federal government, state agencies, professional societies (such as ASABE), and universities. When visiting a school, be sure to stop by the financial aid office to find out what programs the school has to offer. What are the course requirements like in these programs? There is no single curriculum for ag systems programs. In fact, they can vary somewhat, but the core foundations are similar. ASABE has suggested guidelines: 15% math/sci-ence, 15% technical ag, 15% management, 15% ag systems management, 10% humanities/social sciences, and 15% composition/communication. These programs integrate a broad education with expertise in agricultural sciences, applied technology, and business management. Courses are relevant to all phases of the food, agricultural, natural resources, and environmental industries. Graduates will be able to integrate and apply advanced agricultural technologies and equipment through student experiences in machine and power systems, computer appli-cations, materials handling, food and materials processing, environmental resources management, electrical/electronic systems, and information/decision support technology. Required coursework balances hands-on knowledge of tech-nology with instruction in agricultural and environmental sciences and agribusiness principles. Supporting courses provide a foundation of math, chem-istry, computer, economic, and communication skills. Computers are used to collect and analyze data and then act on that information to control machines and processes, in addition to communication and information retrieval. CAD programs are used to plan equipment and building layouts. What is the career outlook? What types of companies will I work for? Agricultural systems graduates are in great demand. Many agricultural systems schools have a placement rate approach-ing 100%. The starting salaries are highly competitive and are among the highest of college of agriculture majors. Employers and career opportunities are vast and varied. You could be working for major equipment manufacturers such as Caterpillar or AGCO, seed and grain companies like Monsanto or ADM, government agencies such as the Natural Resource Conservation Service or the Peace Corps, compa-nies like Frito-Lay, Toro, ConAgra, or emerging companies in the biofuels industry. Agricultural systems students are also hired by smaller businesses such as cooperatives, cotton gins, regional manufacturers, and construction companies, to name a few. Or you could start your own business! Are there international opportunities? Most schools offer a variety of international programs for students; study abroad, exchange programs, tours, and serv-ice learning are a few common types. In many programs, students actually work with faculty and other students on applied projects. The faculty and students travel as a group and can receive academic credit. Given the increasing global-ization of agriculture and business, international experiences as a student can be valuable for your career. The opportuni-ties are endless! Research and editorial assistance provided by Tom Brumm, Associate Professor, Iowa State University; Joe Harper, Professor, University of Illinois; and Steve Searcy, Professor, Texas A&M University. Will I have time for extracurricular activities? How many hours a day will I need to study? Let’s look at the second question first. How much time you devote to your studies depends on you and your expectations. Many col-leges say that for every hour you spend in class (often 15 hours per week) you should spend approximately two to three hours studying outside of class. Tougher courses may require more time, easier courses less. Much depends on an individual’s ability, attitude, and motivation. That said, students shouldn’t be expected to study at the expense of all outside activities. Employers are looking for well-rounded new hires, who can balance study with involvement in student activities. You will be able to build your leadership, communication, and organizational skills by being involved in RESOURCE September/October 2014 5

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