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Why Laboratory Courses are Key to Career Success

Getting your hands dirty can be a good thing when it comes to college academics. Hands-on learning is a key foundation of what every SDState student experiences. Laboratory courses are a big part of that—and the positive effects of registering for them can ripple as far as your future career postgraduation.

Here are just a few of the reasons laboratory courses are beneficial to your future success.

They Increase Academic Investment

One of the primary reasons laboratory courses can be so powerful is how much they encourage investing in your own academic success. A study from Oxford University found that undergraduate students who engage in laboratory courses tend to perform better academically, building more peerlike relationships with professors and other faculty, and spurring more investment in research projects and other hands-on learning experiences. Laboratory courses raise the academic bar by their very nature.

Several such projects are going on regularly at SDState—one is Ice Core Lab, where chemistry students engage in analyzing the chemicals trapped in the brittlest portions of the polar ice and snow. Students in nursing also experience laboratory work—including simulation labs that offer opportunities to treat patients for specific ailments.

They Increase Topic Grasp

Beyond basic academic improvement, laboratory courses can also enhance a student's grasp on a given topic in ways that lecture-based study can't do alone. It's all part of a larger, hands-on-learning experience that SDState provides. Experiential scientific methods improve comprehension and give students a workplace-level opportunity with functionalities they'll be tapping into in their future careers. Skills learned from even a basic laboratory course better prepare students entering science fields.

The first-year research lab offered by the biology department at SDState offers a unique, mentored research experience right away during your freshman year. Students build skills to prepare them for cutting-edge undergraduate research during their time at SDState, in addition to picking up laboratory techniques and analysis abilities.

They Stimulate the Brain

Laboratory courses do more than simply improve your general academic and career performance—they have been shown to biologically stimulate your brain, as well. A study from Psychological Science found that learning through doing or actively performing, versus listening or watching, stimulates heavier levels of brain activity. This makes for a stronger ability to recall facts and information and retain them in one's memory long after the activity is complete.

SDState offers a variety of unique courses to spur some brain stimulation in your own area of interest—from the dairy science lab, to the engineering microgrid lab, to the architecture fabrication lab.

They Identify Career Interests

One other key benefit of hands-on learning? You get to try your hand at something (literally) to determine the best career path to fit your goals. It can be difficult to think of potential career paths in the sciences in the abstract, so a lab experience can offer you a better idea of what you excel at and what areas most interest you for long-term career potential.

One such laboratory course often undertaken by SDState students in their freshman or sophomore years is human anatomy, which utilizes the cadaver lab and can be something of a gateway course into more specific disciplines for those generally interested in health sciences. Even toward the end of your experience at SDState, a capstone course can help comprehensively assemble your interdisciplinary interests in the field into one course—such as pre-med students testing out healthcare alongside biotech majors.

And this goes beyond even graduation—a bulk of SDState's graduates have cited laboratory research experiences some of the most frequently recognized items on their résumés when pursuing internships, medical school and future jobs.