A New Year

It’s January and with every New Year comes New Year’s resolutions.  Some decide to lose weight, attend church services regularly or even save money but, all in all most resolutions are used to improve one’s self.  Many of you have decided that getting your degree is your resolution.  What better way to start your New Year off than by furthering your education.  Education is the gateway to success and opportunity.  Although statics show that most people break these resolutions by mid year, we must resolve in our minds to finish what we start.   Isaiah 40:30-31 tells us that “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

As an adult learner there will be times when you may feel overwhelmed because of finances, work, and family but remember God is our provider and shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19).

Wishing you a Happy New Year!  Continue to examine the past and renew your future with education.

Take and Give

 

A couple of weeks ago, Belhaven University’s Chattanooga campus experienced its first commencement exercise. Dr. Niel Nielson, president of sister institution Covenant College, gave a challenging exhortation to our graduates to pursue their callings. It was the type of evening that those of us in the field of education live for.

I’m the director of admission at Belhaven’s Chattanooga adult and graduate studies campus; I’m also an adjunct faculty member. Among other things, this means that I get to know our students at the beginning, during, and at the end of their college experience. It’s my role as a teacher, however, that allows me to interact with our students in an up-close-and personal way.

As working adults and college students, their lives, for the most part, have become exercises in calculated chaos. I’m thinking of a single mother who writes a ten-page research paper while putting the kids to bed – with Good Night Moon in one hand and her marketing text in the other. And then there’s a dad who works two jobs to support his family but somehow finds the time to return to school and pursue his college degree. Ask him why, he’ll tell you that he does it for his family…to be an example for his kids as well as to increase his income. I see students struggle with family members’ illnesses, the loss of jobs, and many other types of personal struggles too numerous to name. As a teacher, I’m also privileged to experience the joys of the adult college experience – getting to know people in their diversity, learning to work together on a project, sharing in their “I can do this” moments.

At this year’s graduation, I spoke to a young lady who had started her journey toward a college degree several years ago. I can remember the day that she came to our campus to talk about returning to school. There were a series of starts and stops, and, to be honest, I wondered if she would make it. But there she was…a smile, a hug, a thank you, a college degree. Graduation – I love it.

Why do adults return to school to earn their college degrees? In the field of adult education, this is a well researched question. There are a lot of answers, but the way I see it, the foundational answer is found somewhere in the process of “take and give.” Here’s what I mean…

In a previous post, I referred to Jesus’ story about the rich fool and his disciples’ reaction to it (Luke 12). It appears to me that this story pushed Jesus’ followers way outside their comfort zones. The problem was that the rich man used the fruits of his success to ensure an easy and care-free life. The lesson for his disciples (and us) was that they should not take comfort in their plans for personal security; rather, they should trust God for everything – even for things like food and clothing. Predictability and security were no longer to be part of life’s strategic plan. Rather, they were things to be taken by God and replaced with something much better.

To be more specific, Jesus had taken away his follower’s need to find security in material things and replaced it with security that is only found in his kingdom…”Do not fear little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32, NKJV). The principle here is that Jesus takes from us before he gives to us. Think about it. Before anything worthy of the kingdom takes place in our lives, Jesus has to take away those things that will ultimately hinder experiencing his kingdom…a process of take and give.

For our students who would call themselves Christ-followers, they will tell you that their return to college represents a divine calling. As they pursue their callings into the classroom, they find that many of life’s activities have been taken – sacrifices made – in order that they may experience the joys of God’s provision during the process of earning their degrees. It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but our students will tell you that it is a very rewarding process. After all, there’s freedom in knowing that God will meet our needs – right down to what we eat and wear. However, the “knowing” comes only as a result of God’s taking – a trial exchanged for a kingdom …sacrifice exchanged for, in the case of our students, graduation.

As I spoke with my just graduated applicant/student/friend, it was obvious that she learned this lesson. Perhaps something as wonderful as graduation is a taste of kingdom victory – a reward for trusting God totally and submitting to his process of “take and give.”

 

Adult Degree Programs and Community Building

 

If you’re a working adult reading this article, chances are that you have considered returning to school. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 48% of all adults over the age of 40 participated in degree programs or classes in 1999, and the trend continues today. Nearly 50% of all college students are 25 years of age or older. Eighty percent of these students work full time while attending class.

Why are adults returning to the classroom in record numbers? Some adults are returning to school in order to gain skills or credentials that will protect their current jobs or help them find new jobs. Others are returning for personal reasons – to finish what they started. Whatever the reason, the adult student has become as much a part of the college landscape as the bell tower or backpack.

The adult returning to college brings many issues to the table. Long gone are the days when she can focus totally on her studies with little else to worry about. For most adults returning to college, this new endeavor must be balanced with work, family, and a myriad of other activities that compete for the student’s time. Institutions that offer educational programs for adult learners must offer a learning environment that is designed to meet the unique needs of the adult learner. In order to make these “non-traditional” students successful in their return to the classroom, traditional programs must become “non-traditional.”  They must reach out to adult students with new and innovative approaches rather than expecting them to conform to an environment designed for younger students with less complicated lives.

The degree programs that you will find on Belhaven University’s adults studies campuses represent such an approach. We recognize that learning takes place when adult students are challenged to link newly acquired information to their career activities. The classroom environment, weekly assignments, and project-team assignments are all designed to maximize learning in ways that are meaningful to the adult learner.

The need to attend college while not neglecting other responsibilities is an important issue for the adult considering a return to college. Students in Belhaven’s non-traditional degree programs attend class once a week instead of two or three times a week. This allows more time for family, church, work and all of those other things that require the student’s attention. The convenience of our adult degree programs is enhanced by impeccable student services and competitive tuition rates than include the costs of books

So, what does all of this have to do with my theme of community building? Having been told a few years back that “it takes a village to raise a child,” we can’t help but acknowledge, in this turbulent economy, that it takes education to build and sustain the village. Education is an integral part of any attempt to build better communities. The bottom line is that when adults can complete their college degrees, communities benefit in a number of ways. Local businesses benefit from a workforce enhanced by the knowledge and abilities of the college graduates. Local economies benefit from the increased purchasing power that a college degree brings to its recipients. Families benefit from the positive changes in quality of life that usually accompany the mother or father who now has a college degree.

Belhaven University’s adult studies campuses have been part of this type of community building since 1996. With a reach that includes Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis; Houston; Orlando; Atlanta; and Chattanooga; our graduates are impacting communities throughout the southeast and beyond. At one time, most of these people thought that they would never complete their college degrees.  As the lives of most working adults become more complicated in these uncertain times, Belhaven University remains committed to offering uncomplicated ways for adult learners to realize their dreams and contribute to the growth and well being of their communities.

 

Belhaven University’s Online Program Announces Reduced Tuition Rates

January 27, 2011: Belhaven University’s Online Program will be reducing their tuition rates effective March 7, 2011! Belhaven’s Online program offers degrees in Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Management, Master of Public Administration, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Leadership, and Mississippi Alternate Teacher Certification. “When you consider Belhaven University’s online degrees, because of our long history, you know the quality and service will be there. Our new tuition rates make Belhaven online degrees a great value when you compare our quality, service, and price,” says Audrey Kelleher, Vice President of Adult and Graduate Marketing and Development. The new tuition prices are as follows:

Undergraduate = $320 per credit hour
Graduate = $520 per credit hour
Mississippi Alternative Teacher Certification = $445 per credit hour

Each program has a $225 resource fee for each course, which includes all required textbooks, the shipment of books to the students prior to the start of all courses, use of the Belhaven Warren A. Hood library and all online library data bases and electronic books, and academic support services to assure successful completion of the program. These new rates will hold through June 2012.

Belhaven proudly stands among the select Christian colleges and universities that offer a unique general core curriculum encouraging the development of a personal worldview. The university believes a Christian worldview is a key to preparing men and women academically and spiritually to serve Christ Jesus in their careers, in human relationships, and in the world of ideas. Founded in 1883, Belhaven University now serves over 3,000 students from campuses in Jackson, Memphis, Orlando, Houston, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and online, offering traditional undergraduate degrees, graduate and adult degree programs, and online degree programs.

The Value of a College Degree

Here’s an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, which highlights a recent report from The College Board on the value of a college degree. It’s worth the read! Click here to read the entire article.

An excerpt:

“Higher education has a public-relations problem. Family incomes are stagnant, but tuition keeps going up. Many students who begin college don’t graduate. Even among those who do, students who borrow are finishing with greater and greater average debt burdens. And then they’re walking into a tough job market. So what is a college degree really worth?

The answer to that question is clearly important for higher education. But trying to find it isn’t easy and brings a fair bit of controversy.”

File Your Taxes — File Your FAFSA

Tax season is upon us! Sometimes this can be good, and other times painful. Either way, filing your taxes serves as a great reminder to do next year’s FAFSA. So… after completing your 2009 tax return, go ahead and knock out your 2010-11 FAFSA… all of the information will be right at your fingertips!

For more information, visit:

http://www.fafsa.ed.gov