There are many silver linings even in a dark economy, however it was perceived to be
darker last year. The students that we see are excited about the prospect of continuing their education. When students come to us they are hopeful, and when they leave us they are even more hopeful. Many of the students see this as an opportunity to better themselves.
Most of the part time populations we serve through the School of Continuing Education are working adults. These students pursue many different degrees at Eastern although we have a specific degree through our school, the Bachelor of General Studies (BGS), targeted towards working adults 25 years old and older. Approximately one quarter of the adult students we serve pursue BGS.
The School of Continuing Education is not responsible for the full time student population at Eastern. However we do serve all students (part time and full time) during summer and winter sessions since we are responsible for all courses offered during those sessions, through EasternOnline, and the through the BGS. Among that population could be working adults who are commuters. Many of our students have lost jobs and have come back to school either as part time, full time or graduate students.
Eastern has approximately 80 undergraduate courses online which students take primarily in summer and winter sessions. Our primary focus has been to create a meaningful experience through a blend of courses mostly taken at Eastern either on campus or at off campus sites including community college sites, complimented by online or blended courses. We try to deliver coursework to adult students through flexible deliveries that are convenient to take, many times in an accelerated format. We take great care when we consider where and when we will deliver a course and the duration of the course. We have one week, two week, three week, five week and seven week formats and well as semester long courses. We are very creative in trying to meet the needs of adults. Goals of adult students communicated to our advisors reinforce the fact that they want convenient scheduling, access to courses and want to finish in the fastest time possible. Adult students are looking to satisfy either a requirement on the job, are looking for a job, are looking for an edge in the marketplace and are looking for marketable skills. More and more employers are requesting bachelor's degrees and additional skill sets that can be obtained by specialized training and or certificates.
Adult students are reinventing themselves by pursuing the new "green certificates" or "green degrees" and by looking at the Healthcare fields in creative ways. Many adult students pursue education in completely different fields, by going for additional Para- professional or allied health training through online certificate programs. The reasons are varied but what we see is that they want to make sure they stay competitive in the marketplace. So they are continually looking to add to their skill sets and to their educational foundation. Eastern has taken steps to create new certificate programs that address the trends. We are continually adding new initiatives to respond to the changing marketplace through bundling or creating new credit bearing opportunities which can be used as building blocks toward a bachelor's degree.