Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC) is once again offering its Weekend Bachelor of Science Degree Program for Working Adults in Mt. Vernon. People from administrative assistants to bank presidents are taking advantage of the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
This January marked the rebirth of this program in Mt. Vernon. The weekend degree program, offered through SIUC’s Department of Workforce Education and Development (WED), was offered in Mt. Vernon from 1986 through the spring of 1993 in what is now the Holiday Inn. That year, the program was moved to the SIUC campus.
Classes for the program are held every other weekend in the state-of-the-art facilities of the Rend Lake College MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon, located on Potomac Boulevard. In fact, a graduate of this program -- Rend Lake College Architectural Technology Professor Rick Marlow -- currently teaches classes for the Mt. Vernon program.
According to Bill Shields, coordinator of the program, the students at the Mt. Vernon site all seem enthusiastic and energetic. There are 15 students in the current class, attending from Benton to Olney, but Shields hopes for more in the coming fall semester. The program is being advertised more prominently since receiving board approval.
People often complete the program to earn promotions and pay raises, Shields said, adding that it is ideal for those wanting to improve their livelihoods without having to relocate. He noted that approximately 1,200 students are in classes every other weekend in the WED Weekend Program at 19 sites around the country.
People who have completed or are in the process of completing an Associate of Arts, Science or Applied Science degree with a professional or technical specialization may qualify to pursue this Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Workforce Education and Development and a specialization in Education, Training and Development.
According to information provided by SIUC, the WED major consists of eight classroom courses and a professional or instructional internship, all of which is completed over four semesters. Credit is awarded for past and present work experience and students must complete any general education requirements lacking from their associate degrees.
Those who have completed an Associate of Arts or Science Degree at an Illinois Community College such as Rend Lake will have completed their general education requirements. While this is not true for those with an Associate of Applied Science Degree, those students may be eligible for the Capstone option.
Participants of this program can earn a bachelor’s degree, work full-time and still have every other weekend and summers off. Classes are offered every other weekend during spring and fall semesters in order to accommodate the schedules of non-traditional students.
In order to earn the bachelor’s degree, students must obtain 60 credit hours from a senior institution such as SIUC. However, students may be awarded up to 30 credit hours for up to four years of full-time work experience in their respective occupational specialties. Twelve hours may be awarded for corporate and other non-graded training. Shields also points out there are ways of accommodating those with no work experience.
"It’s a great program," Shields said, adding that the student retention rate could be as high as 99 percent.
For more information about the Weekend Bachelor’s Degree Program, contact Shields at (618) 453-3321.