WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Beginning this fall, officials at Missouri State University-West Plains will offer classes for four different degree programs during evening hours as part of its new Evening College program.
Classes include those for the Associate of Arts in General Studies, Associate of Science in Business, Associate of Science in Nursing (the LPN-to-RN bridge program) and Associate of Science in Child and Family Development (CFD) degrees, said Dennis Lancaster, interim dean of academic affairs.
Classes for each degree will be arranged in a routinized schedule that will allow students to complete the degree within a certain number of semesters, provided they commit to the required hours each semester, he said. These schedules can be found at http://wp.missouristate.edu/academics/evening-college.htm.
“We recognize there are students and potential students who cannot take classes during the day due to work and/or family obligations,” he said. “We’ve always had evening courses available, but we want to be able to assure our evening students that, if they follow the schedule, they will be able to obtain their degree within a certain amount of time, which will help them better plan their lives.”
Students enrolled in the university’s Student Success (IDS 110) class last fall were surveyed about a variety of topics to help university officials to improve campus programs, and among the questions were those pertaining to an evening college program. On one of those questions, 132 students out of 191 respondents indicated they would be willing to enroll in a pre-planned set of courses each semester that would lead to completion of a degree. On another question, 132 students out of 194 respondents indicated they knew of someone else who would be interested in the program.
These figures, which indicate a strong interest in the Evening College, seem to hold true to what faculty members were hearing from their students, as well. “Our new LPN-to-RN bridge program came out of conversations with many nurses who said ‘I would love to go to school, but I have to work,’” said Director of Nursing Amy Ackerson. “I was frustrated that the timing of the day courses was an obstacle for nurses who wanted to advance their degree. Most of the students who have applied to the program are very thankful for the schedule and the opportunity to become a registered nurse.”
Faculty in the CFD program have been offering evening classes for years, explained Dr. Renee Moore, associate professor in the department. “The primary reason we’ve been offering this program in the evenings is that the vast majority of our students are adults who are working full time and have families and a lot of responsibilities,” she explained. “We provide seated CFD courses after 5:30 p.m. and often present them in a hybrid format (part in class/part online) so students can complete up to six college hours in one evening.”
Part-time and full-time students will find the Associate of Science in Business a good fit for evening, said Cathy Proffitt-Boys, assistant professor of agriculture and entrepreneurship and chair of the Division of Business, Applied Technology and Public Services. “Our target group is all students, full or part time, who would like to take classes in the evening. These could be students who must exclusively take classes in the evening or students who are taking classes through a mix of times and delivery methods,” she said. “We recognize that many students and potential students are juggling many responsibilities, such as work, families, etc., and the evening program will help ensure that classes required for the degree are available to students through a variety of times and delivery methods, including day, evening, blended and online.”
Lancaster said students have been able to complete the Associate of Arts in General Studies degree through evening classes for several years now, so its inclusion in the new Evening College program was an easy decision.
Missouri State University’s Outreach Program on the West Plains campus also played a role in the decision of which degree programs to include in the Evening College. “The AA in General Studies will transfer into any of the programs we offer, and the AS in Business transfers well into the bachelor’s of general business, allowing students to acquire prerequisites needed before taking the upper division courses,” said Outreach Coordinator Deanna Smith. “Students interested in a bachelor’s in child and family development would need to earn the AA in General Studies and the AAS in CFD in order to continue on with the bachelor’s program offered in West Plains.”
Ackerson pointed out the ASN degree easily articulates into the bachelor’s degree in nursing available through Missouri State (a program that is completely online), as well as similar bachelor’s programs at other institutions.
To support Evening College students, Lancaster said several university offices would remain open until 7 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays beginning this fall. These include academic affairs, admissions, the business office, financial aid, food services, Drago College Store and registration and records.
The Garnett Library will be open its normal hours, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the Advisement and Academic Coaching Center for Empowering Student Success (AACCESS) office will have an advisor available until 7 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays beginning this fall.
Area residents interested in the Evening College program can begin the application process to the university immediately and register for classes through the STudent Advising and Registration (STAR) Orientation sessions, which begin in May for new students.
Lancaster stressed anyone can take these classes, “but we’re specifically wanting to reach those students whose time is limited with already busy lives.”
For more information about the Evening College, call the admissions office at 417-255-7955 or visit www.wp.missouristate.edu.