An estimated 700,000 Tampa Bay residents have earned some college credit but haven’t completed their degrees. Others of a non-traditional college age may want to hone their skills or make a career change, but they don’t know where to begin.
State College of Florida
(SCF) makes it easier for adult learners to return to earn a degree. "It’s a major piece of our overall mission to serve that population of students," says Gary Russell, VP of academic affairs at SCF.
For those who have not been in school for a while, the biggest challenge is often becoming reacquainted with the academic environment. To assist with this, SCF provides workshops and tutorial services to get people up to speed. But, they don’t stop there.
The mission of catering to adult learners can be seen across the college. SCF's professors take a personal interest in assisting students wherever they may be, with expanded and flexible office hours. "There was never a time I felt cut off from them," says SCF graduate Jodi Johnson.
The Lakewood Ranch campus recently started a Saturday College, allowing people to earn an Associate’s Degree completely by participating in Saturday courses. An ambitious learner could complete an entire Associate of Arts Degree in a single calendar year.
"Lots of people would like to upgrade their skills, or retrain," says Russell. "Having these options allows them to do just that while at the same time continuing to work."
Earning a degree can have a direct positive impact on job quality as well as prepare people for their next opportunity. The Graduate Tampa Bay
initiative led by the Tampa Bay Partnership
aims to increase the level of college degree attainment in the region by one percent, leading to a more prosperous community and increased economic vitality.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jodi Johnson, Gary Russell, State College of Florida