La Marr Daniel decided to return to school to get her master's degree because of the competitive job market. "I wanted to have an edge on the competition," she says.
Daniel, a single mom, was looking for a program that catered to the needs of busy adults. She chose the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond (28 Westhampton Way, 289-8133, scs.richmond.edu) because it offered the flexibility to "have a work-family life balance without sacrificing the academic reputation of the school or the education of the students."
The School of Continuing Studies offers certificate programs and associate, bachelor's and master's degrees in a variety of disciplines. Classes are scheduled in the evenings, on weekends and online for the convenience of adult students. The University of Richmond also offers a part-time MBA program in the Robins School of Business. All classes are held in the evening to accommodate working professionals.
Daniel found that the school's students come from diverse professional backgrounds. "That gives me the opportunity to also learn from real-life experiences," she says. "The school has definitely surpassed my expectations."
Daniel is one of hundreds of adults who have decided either to get the bachelor's degree they've always wanted or to advance their careers by earning a master's degree.
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (371-3000, jsr.cc.va.us) has extensive evening-class offerings throughout the week. "We have different classes on each campus," says Nannette Smith, associate vice president of academic affairs. The college has three campuses: the Parham Road campus at 1651 E. Parham Road, the Downtown Academic Campus at 700 E. Jackson St. and the Western Academic Campus at 1851 Dickinson Road near Routes 6 and 632 in the community of Goochland Courthouse.
The college recently instituted its Fuel Smart Friday program, allowing students to come to the campus one day a week and get 12 hours of credit. It has also increased its offerings of Saturday classes. In spring 2009, the college will have a total of 41 classes being offered between Friday and Saturday. "We are a community college, and we take that terminology and title seriously," Smith says. "When the community needs a change, we should be flexible enough to accommodate that. We've always had night classes, and we have been offering limited Saturday classes since the school opened."
Virginia Union University (1500 N. Lombardy St., 257-5600, vuu.edu) offers a weekend-college program on Friday and Saturday for continuing-education students. The program focuses on adults who would like to switch careers and pursue teaching licenses. "They must have a bachelor's degree in order to enroll," says Wilbert Jenkins, dean of the School of Education. "We evaluate their transcripts and provide appropriate courses for licensure. Our program is nationally accredited."
Evening and weekend classes are offered for a number of undergraduate and graduate degrees at Virginia Commonwealth University (828-0100, vcu.edu). In addition, the Office of Continuing Studies (920 W. Franklin St.) is an incubator of new off-campus, for-credit initiatives, which often are offered in response to community needs. Some programs, such as the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree and the Fast Track Executive MBA program in the VCU School of Business (301 W. Main St.), are geared specifically toward adult learners.
Throughout its history, John Tyler Community College (13101 Jefferson Davis Highway, 796-4000, and 800 Charter Colony Parkway, Midlothian, 706-5175, jtcc.edu) has addressed the educational needs of adult learners. John Tyler provides students with enrollment options using online instruction, hybrid courses and weekend programs. Some programs, like Quick Connect, permit adults to acquire entry-level skills for positions in manufacturing in only seven weeks. The college's Commonwealth Nursing Program uses a combination of online didactic instruction and weekend clinical rotations to make careers in nursing available for more adults.
Newer institutions also offer adult education, including Averett University (4880 Cox Road, Suite 101, 270-1889, averett.edu); Bluefield College (9211 Arboretum Parkway, Suite 400, 276-3788, bluefield.edu); Strayer University (11501 Nuckols Road, Glen Allen, 527-1000, and 2820 Waterford Lake Drive, Suite 100, Midlothian, 763-6300, strayer.edu); and the University of Phoenix (6600 W. Broad Street, Suite 200, 288-3390, phoenix.edu).