Classes to Fit the Non-Traditional Student
by Kathy Schwartz
Have you ever wanted to blaze a different path or continue a pursuit of knowledge but get interrupted by real life? Have circumstances beyond your control taken the security of a job away from you? Or, are you a life-long learner thirsty for a new challenge?
Perhaps the Huntington University Adult Degree Program is for you.
Julie Goetz, Director of Graduate and Professional Programs, and Daniel Solms, Vice President of Enrollment Management & Marketing, recently sat down and shared some insights into the Adult Degree Programs at Huntington University.
“We are offering a Christ-centered education, but in this case, we are doing it in a way that is most beneficial for working adults, whether it be evening classes or online,” explains Julie. “It’s finding a way to integrate a Christian world view into a high-quality education.”
“Huntington University is in the business of transformation,” adds Dan. “On the traditional side, when your typical 18-year-old comes through us, they are still trying to figure out life, and we are part of that journey and helping them figure that out. In the professional programs, they already have made that decision, and we are able to follow them through that transformation.”
There might not be a “typical” adult student, but there are some basic similarities. Most are working adults with real-world situations.
“We have those people who are saying, ‘This is on my bucket list, and this is something I already wanted to do for me,’” says Julie. “Then, there are the people who are at a place where they’re trying to advance in their careers. They have an opportunity to move up, or they want to move up, and they can’t get a second look without a degree.”
Another type of student seeking to enroll in an adult program at Huntington University does so because of a workplace in the area that has closed or is downsizing.
“There are people who are displaced workers,” reports Julie. “They have some special funding available, so now is the time to go back to school and do something different.”
In the beginning, Huntington University collaborated with local businesses. The university program first started offering bachelor and associate degrees in business, along with Christian ministries degrees.
“What we do is ask, ‘What is the need? What do people want to get into?’ And finally, ‘Do we have the expertise to offer it?’
“There are some degrees that people may want,” she says, but the university cannot offer every degree imaginable. “We don’t have the base.”
Huntington University Adult Degree Programs include associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, plus graduate credential programs and a certificate program.
These are offered online and on campus in an accelerated format. Classes are held one day a week for four hours, on campus or online, for five weeks. The online class is also offered in a five-week format.
“People think online classes are going to be so much easier,” Julie says, “But, we didn’t design our online classes to be easier than our residential. It may not be the exact same assignments, but it is equivalent to our residential.”
The obstacles adult students face are different from the 18 year-old student coming to reside on campus. Adult students typically hold jobs and have to balance a variety of responsibilities, including family and other obligations.
“Your adult student has to learn to balance, and they have to make sacrifices. There are a lot of real-life things that get in the way of adult students.
“The biggest thing for them is fear,” adds Julie. “It has been a while since they have been in school. Perhaps they weren’t the best in school. And so, the biggest thing to overcome is fear.”
Huntington University provides a variety of support services for the adult student, such as writing assistance and tutoring. The residential students are in a cohort group, which meets weekly for the class and is there to offer support. It is that support that speaks to the success of the student.
“They need support within their family systems. They also need support from us.”
Julie continues, “Our faculty is amazing. I can’t think of any faculty member who wouldn’t put himself or herself out there to help.”
Because of real-life obligations, financial concerns weigh heavily on an adult student.
Though the program’s tuition is less per credit-hour than the traditional student, financial considerations remain.
Dan addresses this concern. “If a person has never completed a graduate degree, and they show the financial need for it, the State of Indiana is very generous with financial aid.”
That aid might be in the form of specific grants added to the Federal Pell Grant. “That can make the Huntington degree very affordable, especially in the professional programs,” Dan adds.
Students can also get credit for prior learning, through either testing or a portfolio presentation that speaks to the life experiences related to a course’s objectives.
To those considering an adult degree program, Dan says, “Sometimes we ask ourselves the question, ‘Will these sacrifices be worth it?’
“It is worth it for your family, and for what you will be able to accomplish on the other side of that.”
Referring to many applications she has received from adult students, Julie says, “On their applications as to why or what has brought a student to us, they often state, ‘I want to do this for my kids. I want to show them that you can do this…that hard work does pay off.’”
The thought of going back to college, no matter the reason, may be daunting, if not downright mind-numbing. But the rewards are immeasurable. Learning, at any age, can only lead to growth.
Huntington University Adult Degree Programs
2303 College Avenue
Huntington, IN 46750