Walters State Community College is now enrolling students in its College Express Early Childhood Education program. The program is designed for busy, working adults. Students attend class one night a week and complete an associate of science or an associate of applied science in only two years.
The early childhood education degree opens doors for students who wish to work or are already working in the early childhood education and childcare fields.
While classes are similar, the degrees lead down two different paths. The associate of applied science degree in early childhood education prepares students to be teachers, assistant teachers, caregivers and administrators in childcare centers, family childcare, Head Start programs, preschools and after-school programs.
The associate of science degree in early childhood education is designed for students who want to transfer to the first two years of a four-year degree.
The first College Express Early Childhood Education cohort has finished with an impressive 93 percent completion rate.
“The biggest advantage for this group is that students can fit college courses into their busy lifestyle. You can complete your degree while still working a full-time job. This program is designed around the needs of adult learners,” said Frank Umbarger, a distance education coordinator at Walters State who serves as a liaison between students and the college.
Umbarger credits the high success rate to the schedule and convenience of College Express. Students also benefit from the cohort concept, he added.
“Students start and finish as a group. Most students in the cohort are in the same position. You have a built-in support group,” he explains. College Express has helped many who had tried college once or many times in the past.
“This takes a lot of the stress out of college. You basically deal with this office. Students are also able to focus on one class at a time. Adult learners otherwise may take two or three classes at a time to complete a degree in three or four years,” Umbarger said.
Adult learners who have taken college credits in the past may be able to apply those to this degree, Umbarger said. He also explained that one or two classes require labs and the cohort will meet twice a week for those periods.
For more information about the program, contact Umbarger at (423) 585-6989 or Frank.Umbarger@ws.edu.
In the picture: Walters State Community College will offer the early childhood education major through its popular College Express format this fall. From left, students Sarah Buel and Connie Worley help Camden (Sarah’s son) stack a counting toy while Karen Stooksbury, coordinator and associate professor of early childhood education, and Frank Umbarger, distance education specialist, observe.