Esports among new studies at Bethany College

BETHANY, W.Va. (WTRF) — Nestled in the hills of the Northern Panhandle, generations of students have arrived at Bethany College to escape city life and study—with the scenic hillside as a backdrop.

And while that experience has remained intact in the 21st century—higher education is in a time of constant change.

With the internet, COVID, and a jump in stay-at-home work, a four-year degree is no longer the only ticket to job success—and the school is ready to face the demands of our brave new world.

How we define a student in 2023 is different than we would have defined it 10, 20, 30 years ago.

Dr. Jamie Caridi, President, Bethany College

And that student is less likely to head to the library than to switch on a laptop.

The school is expanding its education offerings to include a minor in esports, or competitive video gaming, along with digital marketing and other increasingly in-demand trades.

It’s part of a new trajectory that will include a team, a coach, and even an esports tournament arena.

But it’s not just about games and playing them—it’s about building the infrastructure for a booming new industry.

A lot of people may not understand what esports is. Who would’ve thought you could go to school for gaming, right? But it’s way more than that. It’s about research. It’s about business. It’s about marketing. It’s about sales.

Dr. Jamie Caridi, President, Bethany College

They’ve also been looking beyond the town boundaries to see what jobs the region and the state need.

The college has launched what they call strategic partnerships, where Bethany students in fields like medicine and law have guaranteed admission with specialized West Virginia schools.

Even Brooke High students are able to take college-level classes a year or two ahead of time.

What are the needs of the families, what are the needs of the students, what are the needs of the employers, what are the needs of government. And we want to make sure we’re contributing.

Dr. Jamie Caridi, President, Bethany College

Dr. Caridi says there’s still lots to be said for a traditional and well-rounded liberal arts education.

But when their students flip those tassels, they want to make sure they don’t just have a degree in hand—but a roadmap for their adult lives.

We believe very much that yes, we’re going to teach you how to make a living, but we’re also going to teach you how to live life.

Dr. Jamie Caridi, President, Bethany College

The buildings on campus are getting an overhaul along with the courses.

A major renovation is planned for the residential Harlan Hall, as 300 new on-campus students are expected next year alone.