Business Education Path to Advanced Degree
New collaboration with Rasmussen College
Not long ago, Scott Gunderson, a Supervisory Management instructor at Dakota County Technical College, experienced an epiphany of sorts regarding adult learners returning to college after a long interval, or enrolling in college classes for the first time in their lives. According to the American Council on Education, adult learners—students 25 years of age or older—have comprised nearly 40 percent of the college-going population for the last 20 years. Adult learner backgrounds and experiences range from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to middle-aged professionals in career transition to technologists upgrading their skill sets. New data from the National Center for Education Statistics projects that between 2010 and 2020 the number of adult college enrollments will increase by 20 percent.
“At DCTC, we know that adult learners often feel apprehensive or uncomfortable about coming to our campus because they believe most of the students will be much younger than they are,” Gunderson said. “That’s not even close to the case. The average age of a DCTC student is thirty-one.”
Gunderson’s epiphany centered on the insight that four-year institutions are experiencing a similar increase in adult learners, or nontraditional students, as two-year colleges. Accompanying that upswing would be the same issues of anxiety about making the grade or fitting in with younger classmates. For many of Gunderson’s business-minded students, the idea of pursuing a bachelor’s degree after earning a certificate, diploma and/or A.A.S. degree makes sense career-wise. Why not make that transition seamless while simultaneously providing opportunities to preview a four-year college campus firsthand?
Facts about adult learners from a 2012 study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center
- 38 percent of all postsecondary students in a fall term are adult learners
- 54 percent of adult learners age 25–29 were full‐time students
- 34 percent of adult learners age 40 and over were full-time students
- About 66 percent of adult learners were enrolled in public institutions
- The proportion of students attending for-profit schools among the 25–29 age group is smaller than the proportion for the 30‐39 and the 40 and over groups (13 percent vs. 19 percent for the latter two groups)
- A higher proportion of younger students are more likely to attend four-year institutions than are older students; the three-year average is 65 percent for the 25–29 age group and 55 percent for the 40 and over age group
- Nonetheless, the proportion of students attending four‐year institutions is higher than those at two-year institutions in all three age groups of adult learners
Gunderson contacted David Tan, regional director of business development at Rasmussen College, to discuss a collaboration between the two institutions. Dawn Braegelman, strategic account manager, and business instructors, Antar Salim and Barbara J. Hentges, all at Rasmussen, also took part in crafting a class collaboration opportunity with DCTC that can benefit any student in a DCTC Business & Management program.
“In early September, we held a one-day field trip to the Rasmussen College Eagan campus for students in our human resources cohort,” Gunderson said. “We coordinated curriculum with a Rasmussen eleven-week HR program. Our students got the chance to hear from a subject matter expert on employment law, take part in discussions and projects, and meet and share stories with Rasmussen students. The experience was a win-win for both colleges. My students and I wish to thank Barbara Hentges for inviting us into her classroom.”
Gunderson noted that Rasmussen employs an accelerated learning methodology that matches what students experience in DCTC Business & Management programs. “DCTC graduates will feel right at home in a Rasmussen business program,” he said.
Kenneth McCloud, a student in Gunderson’s Human Resources Management course, had this to say about the field trip: “It was a nice change of pace to attend class in a different environment. It is encouraging to know that when I graduate from DCTC, I have multiple options to continue my education. Kudos to DCTC for branching out to other institutions and giving students many opportunities to choose from. I enjoyed the guest speaker and his real life experiences as well as his insight into the HR world. It was nice meeting and talking to the Rasmussen students and picking their brains about the Rasmussen experience. I look forward to the time in my learning career when I have to make that difficult choice of where to transfer my credits and pursue my bachelor’s degree.”
AcceleratED Bachelor’s Degree Completion Progam
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- Business Management
- Human Resources and Organizational Leadership
- International Business
- Business Systems Analysis
Gunderson pointed out that adult learners can expedite their journey toward graduation through a DCTC program called Credit for Prior Learning, or CPL. “As an adult learner, you can seek college credit for your life experiences and accelerate your progress toward a degree, diploma or certificate,” he said. “CPL is recommended for adult learners ages twenty-five to sixty-four. Students have earned as many as forty credits toward their degree.”
Learning is a lifelong activity that takes place virtually anywhere—at home, the workplace, even through hobbies and activities. Many adults returning to college or attending for the first time are taking advantage of their lifelong learning experiences to speed the way to professional development or graduation—and from there to career advancement or a brand-new career. DCTC offers a Prior Learning Assessment, or PLA, to help students earn college credit for their demonstrated learning. Follow this link to learn more: Credit for Prior Learning.
About Rasmussen College
Founded in 1900 in St. Paul, Minn., Rasmussen College has 24 campuses and more than 40 diverse online degree programs available to students around the globe. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Rasmussen College focuses on bringing practical, career‐focused education to the classroom.
“We have discovered that private colleges are flexible when working out articulation agreements,” Gunderson said. “We are reaching out to create similar collaboration opportunities with other private colleges and universities, including Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Strayer University. Collaborative agreements like this, including potential future agreements for our Early Childhood and Youth Development program, provide even more opportunities for our students to succeed academically and go on to find rewarding careers.”
For more information about the DCTC Supervisory Management program and Rasmunssen College transfer options, contact:
- Scott Gunderson
Supervisory Management Instructor