A respected degree, personalized education plans, on your schedule…is that possible? As the world of competency-based education grows, the opportunities to advance your education are plentiful, but not all equal. Earning a degree from a trusted university, at a lower cost, through a program designed to provide a tailored learning experience, while working at your own pace, is the reality created through the University of Wisconsin Flexible Option.
The UW Flexible Option focuses on providing a positive and effective student experience. Students will find a support network built to help them work through the program at their own pace, with access to a team of advisers, learning services, and a personal academic success coach. This process is outlined with our “student” Brooke in the Flexible Option information video, and shows how our UW Flexible Option staff is charged with building these support teams to assist a student in his or her quest to earn a bachelor’s degree, with the hope that this new degree will lead the student to earn a promotion or raise, and essentially create better a life for his or her family.
“Students have access to writing centers, library services, but most importantly, they have a success coach who can assist them with everything from overall study strategies to how to prepare for different assessments,” says Ryan Anderson, Director of Instructional Design and Development for UW-Extension. “A student is just a phone call away from a success coach, who takes the approach of not resting until the student’s issues or needs are resolved.”
Like “Brooke,” students seeking their degree through the UW Flexible Option have busy schedules, families, and work obligations that don’t fit within the demands of a traditional learning approach. They might have a solid career but can’t advance without a bachelor’s degree, like UW Flexible Option student Aaron Apel – but they need a learning environment that they control – when they start their education, how quickly or slowly they move through the material, and the ability to take breaks without losing ground.
“As the working father of three, I just don’t have the time to sit in a class and take traditional-type offerings,” Apel says. “The Flex Option is a really good fit. It enables me to work at my own pace, and apply the knowledge that I’ve already attained.”
In addition to the support network of coaches, advisers, and learning services, the UW Flexible Option sets itself apart from other competency-based education through its use of tried-and-true curriculum that’s used in more traditional methods. Anderson says this component is key to putting UW Flexible Option ahead of the competency pack.
“We base our competency sets on existing curricula that are already being used, just reconfigured to fit the Flexible Option format,” Anderson says. “We want authentic assessments that reflect what you’ll need to do in the real world.”
As the UW Flexible Option grows, Anderson says, the Flex team is focused on ensuring students have cutting-edge curriculum at their fingertips. That includes a carefully constructed revision plan that calls for regular updates to curriculum based on industry information and advancements for each program, and student feedback.
“We recognize students need different opportunities to learn and grow,” Anderson says. “That’s why we feel such passion to fulfill the needs of students. This is about helping adult students earn their bachelor’s degree and advance their careers.”