Colleges launch off-campus campuses to accommodate adult working students

Satellite sites designed to be near work, home

March 26, 2000|By Nancy Knisley | Nancy Knisley,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Motivated by mission and market, colleges and universities are launching an increasing number of satellite sites to accommodate and attract working adult students.

Loyola College, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and others offer off-campus programs aimed at those seeking undergraduate degrees, professionals in need of continuing-education credits and people looking to switch careers.

"It's increasingly evident that additional education past high school will have profound effect on earnings ability," said David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. "Noncollege adults can expect to earn $700,000 during their lifetime. The lifetime earning of those with college will average $1.3 million."

Designed to be near places where students work or live, satellite programs may be housed in custom-designed suburban buildings, leased office space in business parks or in hospitals, churches, high schools and community colleges.

To accommodate the schedules of busy working adults, many colleges offer classes evenings or weekends.

Satellite programs are nothing new in the Baltimore area. Loyola and Hopkins have offered them since the 1970s. Throughout the region, such programs offer a wide variety of programs for adult students seeking to broaden their education.

Loyola College

Scott Greatorex, Loyola's director of graduate admissions, said its graduate centers in Timonium, Columbia, and Severna Park (410-617-5020; www.loyola. edu/graduateadmissions) are designed "to meet the demands of students, serve them in the best possible way, move programs to them." He called the programs "consumer-oriented."

The Timonium Center, which opened in 1998, is near major highways and features 24-hour access, rooms for group meetings outside class, and executive-style classrooms designed to be comfortable and technologically sophisticated. Every seat is wired for computers and laptops can be plugged into the desks.

At the Timonium and Columbia centers, students can earn graduate degrees in engineering science and business. The Columbia Center also has graduate programs in modern studies, pastoral counseling and speech and language pathology.

Johns Hopkins University

The Johns Hopkins School of Professional Studies and Business Education (800-GOTOJHU; www.jhu.edu) offers courses at five sites: Homewood, downtown Baltimore, Howard County, Montgomery County and Washington.

The downtown Baltimore site primarily offers graduate business programs. The Howard County site offers selected undergraduate courses and graduate programs in business and education.

Montgomery County offers engineering and public health programs, and Washington has graduate business and other programs.

The courses at the satellite sites are the same as those taught at the main campus, although sometimes in an alternative format.

Ralph Fessler, interim dean, said the program's strengths are its quality and its responsiveness to student and community needs.

University of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix (410-536-7144; www.uophx.edu/maryland), which has 85 campuses across the country and overseas, opened a satellite site in Columbia in April.

Paul Hamlins, vice president and director of the Maryland campus, said the university was founded solely to educate working adults through uniquely designed programs. The for-profit school offers a diverse menu of classroom and online courses.

Students, who must be at least age 23 and working, take one course at a time for five or six weeks. New classes, which meet once a week for four hours, are starting all the time -- students don't have to wait until the beginning of a semester as they do at more traditional colleges.

Small-size evening classes, usually fewer than 15 students, are available in the proper sequence.

The Maryland campus offers undergraduate business programs and master's degrees in business administration and organization management.

University of Maryland

The Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland (301-405-2559; www.rhsmith.umd.edu) has an evening MBA program in downtown Baltimore and at Shady Grove in Montgomery County.

Anne Moultrie, director of public relations for the business school, said the highly selective program draws on a number of disciplines "to help students compete in the new digital economy, or networked economy."

Moultrie said the program has earned high national rankings from Computer World, Financial Times, U.S. News & World Report and Business Week.

Western Maryland College

Western Maryland College (410-857-2546; www.wmdc.edu) offers off-campus course work in education in 15 counties. The college has a master's degree in education program in Cecil, Kent, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties.

For those looking for an especially far-flung satellite, here's an unusual venue: Western Maryland's campus in Budapest, Hungary.

While primarily intended for European students who want to work toward a highly prized American college business degree, the campus attracts a diverse group of international students, said Don Schumaker, associate director of public information.

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