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posted 5/22/2008

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, College Connection / College Profiles

February 1, 2008

Anne T. Makeever, College Connection Editor

There are lots of ways to earn a degree and decidedly fewer reasons not to.

In these days of overbooked schedules, pinched budgets and a highly competitive job market - not to mention highway construction and closures - many St. Louis-area institutions of higher learning have led the way in meeting the changing needs of students.

Jerry Bladdick, associate vice president for adult and continuing education for Fontbonne University's OPTIONS program, sums up the changes afoot rather succinctly. "We view students as customers." As a result, OPTIONS includes satellite campuses that require little or no commute, accelerated-degree programs and online courses that can be completed at home - or in the corner coffee house. "We visit our students where they live and work," said Bladdick.

Fontbonne maintains full-service campuses in South County, Chesterfield, downtown St. Louis and in North County. Employees working at the Daimler-Chrysler facility can take Fontbonne classes within the building. Those working in the corporate offices of SSM Healthcare in Creve Coeur can too.

OPTIONS also offers a graduate online degree, the Master of Science in computer education and anticipates the launch of an online Master of Arts in Teaching. Visit www.fontbonne.edu or call 314-863-2220.

"St. Louis University has been operating its School for Professional Studies since 1996," said Tony Gallini, manager of recruitment and marketing. The school was established to support adult learners; the average student age within the school is 36.

St. Louis University also delivers education online. Gallini reported that students can use online classes to complete the first two years of a degree program and then begin to meet in a classroom - often just once a week - for upper-level courses.

"We maintain a full-service satellite campus in Belleville, Ill.," said Gallini. This location offers a host of support services, and students here can earn a degree in criminal justice, organizational studies or computer science information systems. Visit busyadults.slu.edu to learn more; or call 314-977-2330.

University of Missouri-St. Louis has long emphasized flexibility and accommodation. Glen Cope, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said, "We offer flexible schedules designed specifically for our non-traditional students, many of whom ...attend our classes in a variety of ways." Several of the university's programs are available online and more will follow, and classes are available in the evening and on weekends.

"Through our partnership with St. Louis Community College, we offer upper-level courses in nursing, business and elementary education at the Wildwood campus," noted Cope. And no matter how complicated the commute, UMSL students can ride MetroLink and avoid the issue altogether. Call 314-516-5000 or visit www.umsl.edu for information.

Mark Weinstein, director of marketing and publications at Maryville University, uses the word "flexible" to describe Maryville, an adjective that fits. In addition to its main campus, Maryville has satellites at St. Charles County Center and Southwest Center.

Maryville's Weekend and Evening College offers, among others, degrees in criminology, management, nursing, liberal studies and legal studies, as well as a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Music Therapy. Visit www.maryville.edu or call 314-529-9300.

There are lots of ways to finish a degree or pursue a new one and, given the innovations in education, decidedly fewer reasons not to.

With permission, copyright (2008), St. Louis Post-Dispatch / College Connection