Award-winning Statewide College Program for Adults Enters Its Second Year

Oklahoma Reach Higher nursing students from Connors State College.

As Oklahoma’s college program for adults begins its second year, it has generated hundreds of college credit hours statewide and won a regional education award. And, enrollment is now open for new students who want to join the program’s success and finish their bachelor’s degrees.

“ReachHigher: Oklahoma’s Degree Completion Program” is designed for adults who have attended at least two years of college but didn’t complete a bachelor’s degree. The program is currently offered at eight of Oklahoma’s public regional universities across the state.

Since its launch as a pilot semester in March 2007, 120 students have joined the program to finish their degrees. Another 65 students are taking particular ReachHigher classes that interest them. Officials said more than 900 others have inquired about the program.

Just last month, ReachHigher was named an “Exceptional Program” by the Association for Continuing Higher Education at its annual regional conference in Missouri.

Chancellor Glen D. Johnson said ReachHigher’s flexible format should help more Oklahomans finish their degrees.

“The ReachHigher program is receiving national recognition for its innovative method of meeting the needs of adult learners, as well as the needs of business and industry,” Johnson said. “With ReachHigher’s flexible and convenient format for offering an affordable, quality higher education we have become a role model for other higher education systems across the country.”

That possibility of finishing college while keeping a normal routine is what appealed to ReachHigher students and husband and wife, Steve and Liz Taylor of Ada, where they attend East Central University.

“The program is set up just like it says, for working adults,” Liz Taylor said. “By having so many online classes, it makes going to college easy. I can do my homework after my third grader goes to bed.”

“Or, another neat thing is, I’ll tell my third grader, ‘You have homework every night, well, Mommy does, too.’ We’ve actually sat at the table and done homework together,” she said.

Liz is expected to graduate in 2009 and Steve in 2010. Steve hopes to attend seminary afterward at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Liz hopes her bachelor’s degree will help advance her career.

“By getting my degree, it gives me more options,” she said. “I’m more promotable within my company. For anyone who gets a bachelor’s degree, it just makes you more marketable.”

To qualify for ReachHigher, students must have already earned at least 72 credit hours, hold at least a 2.0 grade point average and be at least 21 years old.

Students take college courses in a flexible, adult-friendly format and, when finished, will have earned a Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership.

With a degree in organizational leadership, graduates will be prepared for job promotions, pay raises or new careers that require a bachelor’s degree. They will be equipped with communication skills, data analysis proficiency, leadership ability, and other knowledge and skills that are relevant in the workforce.

The universities that currently offer ReachHigher include: Cameron University in Lawton, East Central University in Ada, Langston University in Langston and Oklahoma City, Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and Muskogee, Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva and Enid, Rogers State University in Claremore, Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, and the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

Classes cost about $147 per credit hour. Students can apply for the program by calling (800) 951-0768.