Catholic college satellite campuses cater to non-traditional students

| Jennifer Janikula for The Catholic Spirit | November 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

The St. Mary’s University Twin Cities campus headquarters is located at 2500 Park Ave. in Minneapolis. Andrew Block, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota

When you think of Catholic universities in the Twin Cities, St. Thomas and St. Catherine likely come to mind. Both schools offer excellent opportunities for college students.

In addition, St. Catherine and St. Thomas feature college programs that blend weekend, evening and online learning as alternatives for non-traditional students.

Over the last 40 years, the demand for non-traditional higher education has increased dramatically. Many people don’t want to or can’t quit their day jobs in order to attend college or pursue advanced degrees. There are a few lesser known, but high quality Catholic programs that meet the demand for flexible learning.

Though their main campuses are outside the archdiocese, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota (Winona), the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth), and Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee, Wis.) use their Twin Cities campuses to serve students who need to balance school with other commitments like work, travel and family.

St. Mary’s University of Minnesota

St. Mary’s University of Minnesota was one of the first schools in the state to begin working with non-traditional students.  The university offers more than 30 certificate, bachelor degree, and graduate degree programs in the Twin Cities.

Many students who attend the Twin Cities campus of St. Mary’s already have degree credits from other colleges and universities. The Bachelor Completion program allows students to finish what they started.

“One strength of our Bachelor Completion program is our transfer process,” said Don St. Dennis, associate vice president of university relations. “We try to be really generous when transferring credits and experience.”

Students in the graduate programs cite convenient schedules, instructor expertise, and reasonable tuition as the main benefits of St. Mary’s programs. Students like Lindsey Weber, who is enrolled in the Masters in Education program, attend classes one night per week and one Saturday per month. St. Mary’s “does a really good job finding instructors who are experts in their field,” Weber said. “The price point is manageable, too.”

St. Mary’s faculty and staff work to find innovative ways to deliver courses. Given enough student interest, St. Mary’s will come to you — it will deliver courses on-site at your company or organization.  The university also offers three online, mobile graduate programs in which students use an iPad with a customized learning app to manage their online coursework and collaboration.

College of St. Scholastica

The College of St. Scholastica established its presence in the Twin Cities more than 10 years ago. The college offers accelerated learning for 16 bachelor’s and advanced degree programs.

Students in the standard accelerated learning programs can earn a bachelor’s degree in three years by taking two evening or weekend classes during every eight-week session. Several degree programs include online courses.

The bachelor of arts in social work is one of St. Scholastica’s most popular local programs. Students complete their associate degree through Inver Hills Community College (IHCC) in Inver Grove Heights.  Then, using classrooms at IHCC, St. Scholastica faculty members teach the remaining courses needed to complete the degree.

This partnership continues to be a “good example of colleges working together to do what is best for the student,” said Amy Grimm, St. Scholastica’s Twin Cities campus director.

Along with creative partnerships, St. Scholastica focuses on the Benedictine value of hospitality.

“When prospective students call the school during business hours, a person will answer,” said Grimm. “We try to personalize the experience.”

Admissions counselors meet with students one-on-one. They listen to students and work with them to create a plan for success, she said.

The biggest challenge for St. Scholastica students is balance — trying to figure out how to balance going back to school with work and family.

“There is a lot of courage needed to take on this challenge while living life,” Grimm said.

Flexibility helps students achieve balance, and St. Scholastica incorporates flexibility by removing the cohort model from many of their degree programs.

This means students do not need to start during a specific session and do not need to keep pace with the same group of students for an entire degree program.

Cardinal Stritch University

Cardinal Stritch University started offering accelerated learning programs more than 25 years ago.

Though a bachelor of science in nursing degree became available recently, the Twin Cities campus focuses on business degree programs.

Cardinal Stritch students enjoy a variety of calendars and schedules. Most students complete their degrees by spending one night per week in a classroom and doing the remaining work at home. The MBA program can be completed online.

The emphasis on Franciscan values makes the Cardinal Stritch degree programs unique. Faculty members embed Franciscan values into their curriculum.

“Our goal is to create adaptive leaders shaped by a Franciscan moral worldview,” said Bruce Loppnow, associate dean of the Graduate School.

The business school programs teach critical thinking and moral decision-making. Students contemplate the implications of decisions on people, the planet and profit with the objective that all three should remain in balance, he said.

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Category: Colleges and Careers