Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Shawn Wahl, announced COAL will expand its pre-college experiences for younger students.

COAL is divided into seven different areas: three art-based programs and four writing-based paths. The former contains theater and dance, art and design, and music. The latter contains modern and classical languages, communications, media, journalism and film, and English.

These areas are based across Springfield, ranging from Brick City in downtown Springfield for art programs to Ellis Hall on campus for music programs.

Wahl gave the example of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. Started in 1996, it provided a “rich history” of pre-college experiences, including events from each of the seven areas of the college. But now, COAL is wanting to expand these events beyond the MFAA, which means including more events for each specific path offered throughout the year.

The initiatives will focus on a range of ages. For example, the Department of Modern and Classical Languages hosts the Ozarks Hispanic Studies League competition finale. Held every spring on the MSU campus, the event draws in K-12 students to learn about the language through poetry, Latin dance, Hispanic cultural trivia and Spanish singing events. 

The music department is offering the Young Artists Keyboard Academy, a program allowing young pianists to use MSU’s pianos, organs and the Jane A. Meyer Carillon located at Duane G. Meyer Library.

The media, journalism and film program will also expand its dual credit program along with other partnerships.

Wahl said the goal is to help students dream about attending college and to introduce them to MSU’s campus, plus faculty and college students.

“When we are looking at pre-college experiences, it’s really getting a peek at the college experience and having experiences on our campus at a younger age,” Wahl said. “And our hope is that we help them make a decision   whether they decide to come to Missouri State or another university   it’s still giving them an on-campus experience, an opportunity to work with our faculty.”

Wahl said while it is not uncommon for universities to have pre-college experiences, COAL is dedicated to becoming the best in the state of Missouri for pre-college events provided.

He said COAL is not trying to recruit students through these events just for its own department. The goal of these initiatives is to have students attend MSU, no matter their chosen major.

“They may end up majoring in biology, they may end up majoring in business,” Wahl said. “So we see this as an opportunity not only for students to learn about art, writing or debate, but also for them to interface with our campus so they know what the Missouri State University experience is like. This as a win-win for everyone.”