New online accelerated program stands out in supporting non-traditional students

New online accelerated program stands out in supporting non-traditional students

Lanthorn Editorial Board

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, only 58 percent of undergraduate students have a completed undergraduate degree six years after they begin college. This means that countless adults begin school, only to be delayed or drop out.

For some, this may be a deliberate decision that is best for their future, if they decide to enter a trade or are able to break into their career without secondary education. However, many are forced to drop out because of financial or personal circumstances, or simply because the standard educational format does not work for them. 

GVSU is already dedicated to opening its doors to adult students returning to school, with 8 percent of the student population categorized as non-traditional. For scale, this number is nearly equivalent to the number of students involved in GVSU Greek Life. However, there are still some who wish to complete school and are unable to return to the traditional learning environment. 

To offer an option to adults who were unable to complete their undergraduate degree, GVSU President Philomena Mantella and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer collaborated to create the LEADS Online Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree for Adult Students, which offers a 19-month track for eligible students to complete an undergraduate degree. With all classes being online and split into six-week intensive courses, the program is designed to meet the needs of adults working full-time. 

However, Mantella made it clear that the program would give students a community feel that is often missing from online courses. She plans to do this by implementing ‘light touch experiences,’ which includes meeting face-to-face with faculty. They will also be provided with success coaches. Both of these are made to bend to the flexible schedule of working adults.

There is clearly a need for such a program. If you ever watched day-time television 10 years ago, you likely remember the bombardment of commercials for the for-profit institute, Everest College. In 2014, Everest’s parent company, Corinthian Colleges, was sued for severely inflating graduate placement rates and were accused of churning out degrees that were nearly worthless. They have also been accused of disproportionately targeting black communities.

While many of these schools are now closed, for-profit colleges are still a widespread problem. It is important that legitimate institutions offer an option for non-traditional students that provides both accessibility and value.

By examining the details of the program, it is clear that not only is GVSU striving to provide a quality education, but they are also doing everything they can to make it as feasible as possible. It’s commendable to see a public university supporting higher education among students that may not be fresh out of high school. These hardworking adults deserve the opportunity, and West Michigan will reap the benefits. 

Hopefully we will be able to see the program thrive, which will show GVSU welcoming in a new kind of Laker.