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New CBE program targets non-traditional students

April 29, 2010

The College of Business and Economics (CBE) is implementing an Adult Degree Completion Program (ADCP) in an attempt to attract working adults who have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree back to college.

“Over time what we will build is a program of one particular format that will attract mostly adult students,” ADCP Director Michael Bilden said. 

The program is currently in the planning stages, but Bilden said it will be up and running shortly.

“Right now we’re marketing the program with individual advising and counseling and we’ll be offering evening courses in the fall,” he said.

To start, Bilden said the program will be focused on helping those in the business administration program.
The program is advertised on its Web site as a way for parents or working adults to gain the, “professional advancement opportunities that earning a degree can provide.”

Bilden was hired by CBE earlier this semester specifically to head the program, CBE Dean Glenn Potts said.  He was chosen because of his familiarity with the challenges non-traditional students face.

“Michael Bilden has tremendous experience in this area,” Potts said. “Not only did he work at Augsburg College [Minn.] with adult students as an admissions counselor, but he was an adult student at UW-Superior himself.”
Bilden said his time at Superior gives him a feel for what prospective ADCP students will be looking for.

“I was working full-time and in college full-time,” he said. “I needed to attend college during the day on a very traditional schedule.  I can understand how the program needs to be tailored for working students.  We are trying to lessen the time they spend here during the day.”

ADCP will consist of evening courses to start, Bilden said.  The program may add weekend and online courses if the need arises.  Shorter, eight to 10 week classes may also eventually become part of the plan.

“For fall, we’re looking at September to December courses, but many adult focused programs have shorter, more intense and more condensed courses to get students through quicker,” he said.

Michael Bebault is a non-traditional UWRF senior who returned to school to finish his bachelor’s degree.  He is seemingly the type of student that ADCP will be geared towards.  Bebault said in an e-mail that for him catching up with technology has been a struggle at times.

“I have an associates degree in architecture and pre-engineering,” he said. “I got my first degree in my twenties; I am 52 now.  The biggest challenge [has been] computer technology.  I have been forced to catch up with the rest of the world in the computer age.”

Issues non-traditional students can have with technology as well as time management will be addressed as a part of ADCP, Bilden said.

Currently, plans are for the program to begin with approximately 40 students attending half-time and to increase that number to around 120 over a three to four year period.

Though no admissions criteria for the Adult Degree Completion Program have been established, Bilden said previous college credits and time in the workplace will be helpful for prospective students.

“It’s best if they come in with a year or two of college under their belt but there are no hard and fast rules set,” he said. “Over the next few months those things will become clearer.  We’re also looking at prior learning assessments and how we can tie work experience in to the program.”

According to Bilden, wherever the experience comes from it will help students complete their degree quicker.
“The bottom line is speed to completion; helping students reach their bachelor’s degree and get on with their lives,” he said.

Admission into ADCP will require participants to pay a fee for the program.

“It will be a self-funding program but there will be a slight premium on top of standard tuition,” Potts said.
The amount of the fee and payment times are still being determined, Bilden said.

“I’m waiting to see what the UW System sets tuition at and that will happen sometime this summer,” he said. “I’m also still learning about segregated fees and how they might tie in to the budget.”

Potts said he’s excited to see the results of the program once it’s fully established.

“It’s a pretty neat thing actually,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the graduation day when 30 of these students walk across the stage and wave to their kids in the audience.”