School of Adult Learning Celebrates 20 Years

Only a handful of students participated in the Gains of Adult Learning (GOAL) classes during the program’s first year in 1991. It was conceived a year before to serve the fledgling niche market of adults returning to school to complete their degrees.

Today that program has developed into the School of Adult Learning (SAL) and has served thousands of students completing their studies. More than 250 students are enrolled at any one time to complete degrees in eight majors, says Jud Curry, SAL associate director.

Plans are being made for a reunion in the fall for students to celebrate the “entrepreneurial decision” made 20 years ago, the school’s growth, and the accomplishments of its graduates.

“The School of Adult learning is no longer just a small program within North Park University,” Curry says. “It has become an integral part of the university in achieving its vision of helping students lead lives of significance and service.”

Students participate in SAL for a variety of reasons, says Curry. “It gives them a second or third chance to complete their degrees. For someone already at the peak of their job, it’s a matter of completing unfinished business.”

The classes enable those students to put into a broader structure what they have tacitly learned through their job experience, says Curry. “It’s always fascinating to see the variety of experience people come with.”

Some parents have their children in mind when enrolling in SAL. “Some want to get their degrees before their children do, or they want to encourage their kids to finish their studies,” Curry says.

In a recent survey, SAL has exceeded national averages for student satisfaction, with nearly 90 percent of current students saying they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” and would recommend the school to others.

“Students take an average of 2.5–3.5 years to complete their degrees depending on the number of credits they began with and the number of classes they take each semester,” says Curry. Offered in seven-week segments, the course schedule enables students to earn up to 24 hours of credit in a year.

Curry says that 75 percent of students who complete their first course continue taking classes a year later. The school continues to offer expanding opportunities, with more classes being offered online. Curry says that since March, SAL has received approval to begin offer fully online degrees in January 2012.

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SAL 20th Anniversary