Many community colleges and universities partner to offer degree programs for busy professionalsMany universities are beginning to collaborate with community colleges in an effort to give working professionals a way to upgrade their degree while they hold a full-time job. Meanwhile, others are using these smaller schools as satellite sites for their hybrid courses, which allows them access to classroom and equipment while they retain their faculty and online presence.

Furthermore, both higher learning institutions benefit from the deal because universities enjoy the increased enrollment when they offer classes closer to where students live. These schools are introducing two-plus-two programs for students to complete their first two years of a bachelor’s degree at a community college and finish their degree at a four-year school.

Community colleges gain advertising opportunities through the use of the two-year school’s facilities. Additionally, many of the smaller schools use two-plus-two programs with a larger university as a way to entice more people to attend.

Students use tools such Skype, Elluminate, discussion boards and email to communicate with professors and other students. Many schools are requiring teachers, not students, to drive to campuses for weekend classes.

Online business degree available through two school’s partnership

Southern Oregon University (SOU) has begun offering a bachelor’s degree in business administration completely online, according to Ashland Daily Tidings. However, the school gives students the option to take the class in a hybrid format with classes at Southwestern Oregon Community College (SOCC).

"They are getting their degree in an environment that is more suitable to them and they get to know each other, network and build cohesiveness and support." Joan McBee, SOU teacher, told the news source.

College officials added that students can take foundational classes at SOCC, then complete their business degree in six semesters at SOU.

"I joined the hybrid program because I did not want to leave town to get a bachelor's degree, nor did I want to quit my job. I also did not want to completely lose the face-to-face interaction with teachers and students." Kory Isley, MBA student at SOU, told the news source.

Iowa schools combine programs to offer a bachelor’s degree

Likewise, the University of Iowa and North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) recently announced an agreement that will allow students to complete their first two years at NIACC and the final two online, reports the Globe Gazette.

The partnership will allow students who are completing associate’s of art, science or applied science degree to finish their bachelor’s degree of liberal studies or applied studies online. Officials at Iowa University told the news source that students can draft a curriculum that is flexible so that they can keep up with their family lives and work schedules.

The schools are also designing new online bachelor’s degree programs for pharmaceutical majors and master’s programs in social work.

Less commuting is a key reason why professionals go back to school

Some universities offer classes at community colleges that are closer to urban areas because their campuses are isolated and require individuals who have full-time jobs to drive long distances for class. For instance, Pierce College, which is located in Washington state, is offering a part-time physical therapist assistant program at Whatcom Community College (WCC), according to the school’s website.

Through this partnership, Pierce College students will be able to take online classes and complete in-person lab experiences one weekend per month.

"It is a schedule that accommodates students with family and work obligations," Lisa Murray, advising coordinator at Pierce College, told the news source

Peirce students who live closer to the WCC campus will no longer need to drive the 128 miles to the college in order to take certification courses. The classes include training patients in therapeutic exercises, providing hands-on treatment, documenting patient progress and using special equipment, all of which are available at both institutions

Each school is taking advantage of growth in enrollment because of the increased presence of higher education. By using facilities that are closer to students and developing web-based classes, colleges are enabling professionals to earn a degree on their own time. 

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