May 21, 2018
Time seems to pass quickly the older you get.
But even in a short time – like, say, 18 months – a lot can change: new college football champions are crowned. One birthday comes and goes – and you’re halfway toward another one. Summer becomes fall becomes winter becomes spring and right back to summer again.
And in 18 months – or even more quickly – an adult who once thought a college degree was a pipe dream can have that diploma in hand, ready for a career across professional disciplines – and do it affordably.
It’s possible because of Anderson University’s Bachelor of Human Services Flex Degree. This self-paced, 60-hour degree program is the first-of-its kind in South Carolina and designed for non-traditional students who’ve never quite found the time or financial resources to see their dreams of graduating college become a reality.
“Through the combination of innovative instructional design and cutting-edge learning technologies, the Flex Degree format offers a new level of quality and convenience for online learners,” said Dr. Josh Herron, Associate Dean of AU’s Center for Innovation and Digital Learning (CIDL.) “Current or aspiring professionals in a field can finish their degree as quickly as possible by accelerating in courses where they have prior experience and spending more time on topics where they have not had much practice. This approach measures learning and not just a set amount of time in a course.”
Housed in AU’s College of Health Professions, the AU Flex Degree in Human Services allows students to take their own journey – at their own pace – while mastering the art of immersing themselves into the lives of others. Human services is, at its core, the act of using one’s expertise and available resources to serve others.
The Human Services Flex Degree has aligned the program competencies with Human Services National Standards in Education as well as workforce collaboration. That means graduates are prepared with knowledge, skills and abilities to enter the workforce and be competitive in their work.
“We are excited about the AU Flex program because it provides our students an opportunity to gain a degree in a unique approach of competency-based education,” said Dr. Don Peace, Dean of the College of Health Professions. “With this flexible approach, the student sets their deadlines for accomplishing tasks which enables them the ability to complete their coursework more rapidly. The student then is evaluated by how well they demonstrate program competencies, not by how long it takes them to learn.”
The program, entirely online, begins with AU’s 2018-2019 school year, kicking off this fall. Enrollment is now open. Graduates of the program will be equipped for a variety of career paths, including those in corporate administration; case management for children, families and the elderly; or crucial positions at children’s homes, independent living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, non-profit organizations, government positions and schools.
A salary for a human services professional can be as high as $64,000, with opportunities for more pay in the future. Alumni of our traditional human services programs have gone on to earn graduate degrees in social work, counseling and education.
Innovation in online learning has become a hallmark of the AU experience. AU was recently recognized as having the No. 3 “Best Online Bachelor’s” program in South Carolina, and the top program in the Upstate, by U.S. News & World Report. And in January, AU launched a new Office of Technology, Online Learning and Innovation in an effort to better serve the 21stcentury learning needs of students, faculty and staff.
Here’s how the Flex program works:
The program begins with two courses: Intro to Social Work Services and Social Welfare Policies. If those are finished in five weeks or less, the Flex student can add an additional course – for free. Finish that course in five weeks or less, and the student gets another free course. By making use of the two free courses each seven-week term, students can students can complete the program at half the time and cost.
The program includes learning modules with set-your-own-pace projects and a workload that focuses on completing a collection of benchmarks rather than following a regimented schedule of homework, quizzes and tests. Coursework includes pre-recorded mini-lectures, interactive readings and exercises and weekly Zoom sessions with instructors. Also new in the fall, Flex Degree students in the Human Services program will pay for one subscription that covers all textbooks for a set period of time in their major courses, which drastically reduces textbook costs across the program while giving students immediate access to all necessary materials.
And perhaps the best part is that each student is given a personal AU Journey Coach to serve as a dedicated counselor, available by e-mail, phone or Zoom sessions, to help guide them on their journey.
Alongside expert faculty, the Flex Degree Journey Coach will help ensure students choose the right path in each course based on prior experience with the subject matter and will reach out regularly to check on progress and offer assistance in all areas of the student’s learning experience at AU.
All of these aspects make the AU Flex Degree in Human Services a unique experience for adult students, most of whom have family, work and life commitments most traditional students can’t appreciate.
We are excited to offer our students this new opportunity to be a leader in their journey in higher education,” said Eleisha Garland, AU’s coordinator of Competency Based Education. The Flex degree will allow our students to show what they know and apply it to real-life situations. It is an exciting time in the field of Human Services and our graduates will be significantly prepared to enter the profession.”
And it can all be accomplished in 18 months – a timeframe that goes by quickly, but during which a lot can change – including someone’s life.