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November 21, 2013

Fitting school into busy schedules

SMWC offers preview of two adult courses

TERRE HAUTE — Prospective students got a chance to learn about two programs at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College that are designed to meet the needs of busy adults, during an open house at the newly renovated Indiana Theatre on Thursday night.  

College leaders met with potential students and discussed SMWC academic programs, specifically, Woods Online and Master of Leadership Development.

“We know that our working adults ... want to move ahead in their careers,” but sometimes they don’t think they can fit going to school into their lives, said Courtney Richey, Woods director of graduate admission.

An open house after work hours in downtown is an easy way to “show them that they can fit it into their lives and their work and family responsibilities,” she said.

The college hosted another informational session earlier this month at The Bouncin’ Barn, which allowed potential students to let their kids play while parents spoke with college representatives.

The theater was chosen for the open house because of its central location in downtown and to give people the chance to see inside the landmark, Richey said.

“Woods Online is an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree entirely online,” according to a news release. “The program offers flexible schedules, 8-week and 16-week formats, accessible professors, online tutoring and learning approaches specifically designed for adult students.”

Laura Hale, director of Distance Admission, said Woods Online is designed for “women and men with busy lifestyles.”

More than 25 majors are available, and it is 100 percent online. It currently has about 800 students.

“It’s great for that working professional who wants to advance in [his/her] career. It’s great for stay-at-home moms who wants to complete her education, ...” Hale said.

One busy mom, Terre Haute resident Marcy Daub, attended the open house to meet the admission and financial aid officials in preparation for attending The Woods, beginning in January. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration through Woods Online.

“I do most of my classes online now [at Ivy Tech]. It just makes it a lot easier for me,” the mother of two boys said.

Her sons are in school full-time, so she has more time for her studies during the day, and she aims to keep her evenings open for her family.

Daub said she likes online classes because it gives her flexibility. If she has an appointment, “I don’t have to worry about missing classes,” she said.

The Master of Leadership Development is another Woods program that allows for schedule flexibility. It is a one-year online hybrid graduate program “designed for working professionals,” Richey said. It is mostly online but a face-to-face class is scheduled one weekend every eight weeks, which is why it is called “hybrid.”

The program focuses on developing professionals to be leaders. Students choose from four focus areas: not-for-profit, financial, organizational and individual leadership, according to a release.

Richey said the program “takes a practical approach.” Students do their assignments on the organizations they work for so work and school “go hand in hand.”

And Richey has first-hand experience. When she went through the MLD program, she had a number of responsibilities. She had a full-time job at SMWC, a part-time job, a daughter who was 9 months old (at the beginning of the program) and a son who was 4 years old at the time.

“Though it was challenging, I was able to go through the program in one year,” Richey said.

She did her reading over lunch and used every free time she had for school work.

Another SMWC employee can relate to those experiences.

Sara Boyer, associate director of academic systems, attended SMWC campus as a nontraditional student before finishing a degree in marketing through Woods Online in 2003. She completed her MLD in 2012.

But she was also working full-time and had a family.

“The flexibility allowed me to achieve those degrees. It made all the difference for me,” she said.


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