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MC addresses daytime worker needs with a nighttime solution

Clinton — It’s difficult for full-time employees to find time to start a college education or continue one, but Mississippi College’s (MC’s) Accelerated Degree Program has taken the needs of the daytime worker and created a nighttime solution.

For two nights per week during eight week sessions, MC puts degree seekers on the path toward a bachelor of science in business administration (BSBA).

“We have mirrored our traditional day program by providing the same curriculum, full-time faculty and classroom time,” said Dr. Marcelo Eduardo, MC business school dean and associate professor of finance. “Therefore, those graduating from the night program earn an identical education to those who complete the day program.”

Accounting, business and marketing are the current BSBA degree options, with program administrators initiating a new public relations offering in the fall that will lead to a bachelor’s in communication.

Bebe Garrison, the program’s director, said that when she tells potential adult students about the Accelerated Degree Program and its options, “you can tell a light comes on in their heads. They realize they are getting the same benefits of a full-time traditional student — free visits to the college nurse, discounted memberships to the Baptist Healthplex, plus college credit in eight-week intervals instead of 16-week semesters.”

Garrison is quick to point out, though, that being successful as an Accelerated Degree student is hard work.

“You have to have a desire to do it and be dedicated,” she said. “It’s not a watered-down program, and you may have to make some adjustments in your life to complete the 130-hour program.”

Single mother Jacqueline King of Jackson, who plans to graduate in December, said part of her motivation and dedication comes from an old saying her mother used to tell her.

“My mother would say, ‘You can lead a horse to the well, but you can’t make him drink.’ That’s how I feel about self-pacing myself in this program. The institution can put it out there for you, but you have to be a hard worker,” the 30-year-old said.

Student Kirby Boteler of Jackson backed up King’s observations. “You have to want it enough to make the necessary sacrifices to do it.”

Boteler, 24, cited the faculty support at MC as a deciding factor in his sticking to the program, and that even the encouragement he has received from staff members and administrators has made him see that it’s doable.

And, said Garrison, that’s one reason the college hasn’t offered but one of the program courses on-line.

“The one-on-one contact between the teacher and student is especially valuable in an accelerated curriculum. We want to see them interacting face-to-face,” she said, adding that more than 200 are currently enrolled with the average age being 33.

Open entry is another bonus of MC’s program that can’t be found anywhere else in the metro area, said Eduardo, and students can earn 30 hours or more a year toward their degree.

He said, “There are five starting points during a calendar year — two eight-week sessions in the fall, two in the spring and one summer session. There are no self-teaching study groups or mandatory student-led meetings.”

While attending a private college can be expensive, both King and Boteler have had help from their employers, Waggoner Engineering and BellSouth, through educational reimbursement to help cover the $932 cost per three-hour class. This includes a 10% discount offered only to Accelerated Degree students. Other costs are a $64 registration fee and textbooks requested by the instructors. Financial assistance is also available in the form of federal and state aid, and student loans.

All required classes are held on Monday and Thursday evenings, 5:30 p.m.-7:40 p.m. and 7:50 p.m.-10 p.m. The summer session begins May 23, with the fall session starting August 18.

For additional Accelerated Degree Program information, visit www.mc.edu.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Harriet S. Vickers at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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