A new university-wide program is helping students make connections between what they learn in the classroom and the skills they will need to succeed after graduation.

“What’s Next: Integrative Learning for Professional and Civic Preparation” is a multi-year Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, to help meet the region’s economic and societal needs by cultivating a skilled workforce and informed citizenry.

The QEP is a required component of UCF’s continued accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which allows the university to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, specialist, and doctoral levels. The purpose of “What’s Next” is to guide students to set goals and create a learning plan that includes internships, mentoring and collaborating with faculty and other students.

Fatema Hassanali, a senior majoring in accounting, already has discovered the benefits of integrative learning through a recent internship that helped her realize how to succeed in the workforce.

“I chose accounting as my major and felt that an internship would be a great opportunity to hone those skills,” she said. “I soon realized that accounting was just one piece of what I needed to know. The most important skill that I learned was the value of being able to communicate. It goes beyond emails and texts, you need to be able to identify what a person is saying nonverbally and how to tactfully deal with difficult situations.”

“Fatema’s experience illustrates the benefits of integrative learning,” said “What’s Next” director Anna Maria Jones. “Success after college requires not only that students know their area of expertise, but that they’re also able to see the bigger picture, communicate, solve problems and work in teams.”

UCF believes that integrative learning will provide students with the resources to be successful as they pursue their post-graduation plans, which may include graduate school, civic leadership or a business-oriented career.

During the next five years, “What’s Next” will partner with faculty and staff to create academic and co-curricular programs to make certain that UCF students have the resources they need to succeed academically and professionally. Part of this plan includes dedicating more than $250,000 to fund grants and recognize students and faculty engaged in creating high-impact learning experiences.

Learn more about “What’s Next” on the program website, and email QEP@ucf.edu with questions or ideas about integrative learning.