Going back to college after leaving it can be one of the toughest things for working adults whose jobs and families have become priorities over getting a degree.
Reach Higher, Oklahoma’s degree completion initiative, wants to make it easier for those people who have some college credit to go back to school and earn their degree.
OSU Institute of Technology is one of 14 participating colleges offering associate degrees through Reach Higher, and held an open house Tuesday, Dec. 16 for those interested in not only having a degree when they graduate, but a career as well.
Neil Ledbetter made it to his junior year in college before he stopped.
“College didn’t really work out for me. I needed something that would actually prepare me for work,” Ledbetter said, so he came to the open house to learn more about OSUIT’s Information Technologies programs.
“I wanted to get a degree to go to work with, not just to have a degree,” he said, and that sentiment is what OSUIT is founded on. “I’m definitely interested in going to school here. I think it will be a good fit.”
Staff members presented on the admissions process and financial aid opportunities, as well as general information about the university and the campus. Representatives from different schools were also on hand to answer more specific questions about programs and curriculum.
Jody Grammer, assistant registrar for prior learning and assessment services, spoke about opportunities that past job experience and prior college credit could be applicable to credit hours at OSUIT.
“We focus on what you need to know. We don’t want you to pay us to learn what you already know,” Grammer said. “The sooner you get your degree, the sooner you can start your career.
The majority of those who attended the open house weren’t just interested in a degree, but in a job.
Amanda Ledbetter, Neil Ledbetter’s sister, graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in studio art, but her four-year degree didn’t equate to steady employment.
“I just had trouble getting a job so I thought I should just try to find something else,” she said, so she came to the open house to learn about the 3D Modeling and Animation degree in the School of Visual Communications.
Amanda Ledbetter said she knew about OSUIT before she attended Arkansas, but didn’t seriously consider it.
“Now I wish I had,” she said. “What I have is more of a general degree and this is a little more specific.”
She hopes the specialized training will make it easier to start her art career.
“At Arkansas, they didn’t teach you how to get a job after you graduate, but I’ve heard they were good at that here at OSUIT,” she said.
Dr. Ina Agnew, vice president of student services, said she was very pleased with the results of the Reach Higher open house— six potential new students, five of which are planning to enroll in the spring 2015 trimester.
“We see there is a need to have admission and enrollment services offered after regular office hours to allow working individuals who prefer to do business face-to-face with an opportunity to do so,” Agnew said. “Several students who were unsure of what direction to head in, were able to get the information they needed and are now ready to pursue their dreams of going to college.”
Staff are already planning to hold more Reach Higher open houses in the spring and summer trimesters.