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Options College: For adult students

by Reenie Young, Opinion editor


Students may have read on Campus Pipeline that HPU was recently named among the “best” in U.S. News and World Report’s national college rankings. One reason is that along with providing quality education to traditional students, HPU also tries to fulfill the needs of adult students through such programs as the Options College and the Adult Service Center (ASC).

“Our primary focus is to recruit and serve students who want to come back to college for individual courses, a certificate program, or a degree,” said Options College Dean Joe Schmiedl, who is concerned with the inevitable conflicts between adult students’ working schedule, home life, and school. “There is no such thing as a traditional student anymore. Pretty much everyone who is going to school is working or has a personal life. A lot of adults are working full time, have a family, and are now facing a significant demand on their time at school. They need a little help balancing those things.”

Most of the adult students seen by the Options College and the ASC, about 600 this semester, live on O‘ahu; however, Schmiedl said with a grin, “I had a soldier, once, in Bosnia, who took an on line class.”

The stories of nontraditional students who have benefited from the Options College and ASC are many. According to Schmiedl, examples include students who were already where they wanted to be in life, but who had promised themselves that they were going to finish college; students who needed a degree to get promoted in their jobs, and students who already had degrees but just wanted to take an accounting or finance class because their business roles had changed.

“Our job is to help the students accomplish their educational goals,” said Schmiedl.

Tailoring courses to the students’ need is made easier now by on line classes. “One guy on Maui is doing his tenth on line class,” said Schmiedl. “He started here at HPU and then moved away. Military students start here, and when they get relocated, they can log on and continue their education.

“During the summer, many international students go home to visit their families,” Schmiedl added, “but they hate to waste a whole summer. They ask us if they can take a class or two while they are gone.”

On line classes have evolved since December 1999, when there was only one course offered for 16 students. Since then, on line classes have grown, with nearly 40 courses scheduled for spring 2003.

“I would even like to extend it further,” Schmiedl added. “Some faculty have been here a really long time, and you can’t get that amount of knowledge from somebody else. Sooner or later, they are going to retire.” If they taught an on-line course from home, Schmiedl explained, “we could take advantage of their 20-30 years of experience and keep them mentally stimulated.” Although Schmiedl believes that on line classes are a growing way of delivering information, he also thinks they are not for everybody. He emphasized that the on line student needs to be someone who is disciplined and has strong reading and writing skills.

“At Options College and ASC we believe in lifelong learning,” Schmiedl said. “Twenty years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to have an expectation to go to work for a company, work for 20 to 30 years, and retire with a pension. In today’s world, often times people are either changing where they work or what they do several times in that same time span.” Options College and ASC provide programs that help them do it.



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