Maybe she’s a 37-year-old mother, living in a smaller community in Wisconsin, miles away from a campus, working at least part time with a variety of responsibilities – and some college credit stashed in her pocket, possibly an associate degree. Or maybe she didn’t have the opportunity to finish her degree.
That’s just one image of who the UW Flexible Option programs are geared at helping, says David Schejbal, dean at the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division of Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning. It’s the nontraditional adult student with a lot of life experience and knowledge, and the desire to put that knowledge toward completing his or her degree.
“Those students usually have a lot of life stuff to deal with that 18-year-olds don’t,” Schejbal said. “One of the wonderful things about your traditional college experience is that kids can transition from being kids at home to full-blow, adults. But once we get to be adults, as we all know, we have a variety of responsibilities: children, jobs, eldercare, community responsibilities, and all kinds of things. So for many of our students, they have to juggle all of that in addition to work, and most of them can’t go to school in the typical time frame.”
Schejbal says adult education became popular after World War II, during the GI Bill’s implementation, when universities established night schools. Over time, night schools gave way to online programs and now, Schejbal says, the UW Flexible Option provides the next evolution of online education.
“The Flexible Option is the next evolution of that effort, to provide points of access and enable students who can’t take advantage of typical education structures, to still take advantage of higher education,” Schejbal said.
The UW Flexible Option was created as a self-paced mode of learning where students are able to demonstrate mastery of learning without having to actually sit through coursework. For adult students who have prior knowledge that applies to the degree program they’re interested in, that knowledge will count toward their degree.
Schejbal also points out that the UW System’s goal of the UW Flexible Option is not simply to recruit students at any cost. He says the key point is to make sure it fits the student’s needs – and if not, guide them to the program that does.
“We want students to be successful. We are going to take a very measured approach to this and when we have students call, we are going to ask students to do a few things before we encourage them to apply,” Schejbal said. “Our enrollment team is skilled in assessing if this is the right structure for them.”
With the help of the enrollment advisers, students are able to decide if the UW Flexible Option can meet their needs, or if they would be better suited for another degree program. No matter the outcome, Schejbal says the UW Flexible Option approach, from self-assessment, to application, to studying, to graduation, is designed to put students in control of their own learning.
To find out more about the UW Flexible Option and whether this competency-based education option is a good fit for you, call a friendly enrollment adviser today at 1-877-895-3276.