How do you interact with students in a typical semester?
I meet with current students in person regularly to develop an educational plan and to assist them in choosing classes. I’m also available via telephone or e-mail throughout the semester to answer questions or to address any concerns a student might have. Students are also welcome to stop by the office to ask quick questions or just to chat for a while.
We hold an orientation session for new students at the beginning of each semester, and it is not unusual for me to have had several conversations with a student between our first meeting and orientation. All the advisors at The Wescoe School take their time to get to know students individually and to give each one personal attention throughout their time with us.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are so many aspects that I enjoy, but I’d say it’s a tie between being able to meet people from a multitude of diverse backgrounds and watching them bring their varied goals and dreams to fruition.
What are some of the things that make non-traditional students' situations unique? How does Wescoe work around those challenges?
Adult students juggle many responsibilities simultaneously, and most of us at The Wescoe School were adult learners – including many of our instructors – so we understand what it’s like to have a full-time job, children, household tasks, family obligations, and church and civic roles to contend with while pursuing a degree. To help students incorporate education into their lives, The Wescoe School offers 15-week long and eight-week long courses that meet during the week, and eight-week long Saturday classes, giving students flexibility in how often they must attend class each week. In addition, our accelerated degree completion program allows students to attend class one night per week and is an excellent option for people who have already completed some college coursework and are looking to finish a degree they started long ago.
Many of your students come to Wescoe with life and job experiences as well as maturity. How does this make for a high quality learning experience for the student?
Adult students have so much to offer in terms of sharing their life and career experience, and they often do not realize the impact they can have on each other. For example, classroom discussions are both informative and instructive when students share their work experience to illustrate how business theories can be applied across different fields and industries. In other instances, students learn from each other when they share their individual thoughts and feelings about literature and history. Sharing viewpoints creates a deeper, more enriched understanding of the subject matter.
What are top 3 concerns that students typically have?
Most adult students are concerned about how long it will take to earn their degree, how attending school will impact their family life, and how much it will cost.
How do you help ease students back into the classroom and campus?
Prospective students are always welcome to sit in on a Wescoe class prior to enrolling so they can get a feel for what our courses are like. Most importantly, I usually advise new students to limit the number of classes they take in their first semester. Getting back into the swing of going to school (or starting from scratch) can be a difficult adjustment, so even though a student might be enthusiastic and eager to take on a full course load, I try to temper that excitement just a bit. Attending school as an adult can be challenging in many ways, and it is better to be realistic about what you can reasonably accomplish in a semester than to take on more than you can handle. Attending college should be an enjoyable experience, not another stressor!
You were a non-traditional student, what was your story and how does your personal experience help you better advise your students?
Back in 2000, I wanted to make a career change, so I quit my job to attend school full time. I had never attended college before, so making the leap from the corporate world to academia was sort of scary. To make matters worse, I thought I wanted to be a computer programmer, but it didn’t take long for me to discover that I did not enjoy being a computer science major. I loved taking classes, though, and didn’t want to quit, so I changed my major to liberal arts. That’s when I discovered a love for literature and history, and I ultimately decided to earn a bachelor’s degree in English.
Having been a Wescoe student, I understand what it’s like to be on both sides of the advisor/advisee relationship. I wanted to work at The Wescoe School because of the way I was treated when I was a student, with compassion and respect. Stepping into a classroom for the first time in years (or for the first time ever) can be daunting, but Wescoe advisors know it is not easy to attend school as a nontraditional student. We are always available to address students’ questions and concerns and to help steer our advisees toward graduation. Many students find it comforting to have someone to lean on who will be honest and supportive and who genuinely cares about their success, and that is the essence of Wescoe advisors.
What advice would you give someone who is considering getting their degree?
Stop thinking about it and do it! It sounds cliché, but the hardest part really is taking the first step. Students often view earning a degree as a means to an end, but the process is rewarding in so many ways – you meet people you otherwise never would have encountered, and you discover so much about yourself and the world that you never considered before.
Why is The Wescoe School the right choice for some students?
Students who do well at The Wescoe School are intellectually curious and as eager to challenge themselves as they are to earn their degree. Our small class size allows students to interact closely with their instructors and fellow students, and our focus on experiential learning provides opportunities to develop new skills while contributing to projects that have an immediate impact on the local community.