A new bachelor's degree in business through Utah State University Regional Campuses is giving students like Kim Stookey the chance to achieve what was impossible before - a degree from USU without having to leave home.
Stookey began the business program at USU Tooele Regional Campus in 2004 after 10 years as restaurant manager at McDonald's.
"I started the program with no previous college experience," Stookey said. "Without distance education, I would have never started on a degree."
Stookey emphasized that the convenience and flexibility of the program do not come at the expense of quality courses and student services.
"The business classes were small, and the professors were accessible," Stookey said. "Most of the business classes were taught via satellite, and the professors were well organized and ready to teach through this method. The staff was outstanding, and there was always a focus on the highest quality experience for the student."
In addition to school and working part-time, Stookey is involved in student government and is the regional campus' representative on the business council. She praises her overall college experience as "nothing but positive." She is excited to continue in her education and plans to enter USU's MBA program this fall.
The program prepares graduates for administrative positions in business, government and other entrepreneurial careers. The degree provides courses in fundamental areas of business including marketing, accounting, economics, finance and business information systems. Courses are offered weeknights each semester via interactive broadcast delivery, enabling non-traditional students working full-or part-time to progress toward completion of a degree.
"Satellite classes allows us to take the necessary courses to the students, instead of requiring them to come to campus," said Ronda Menlove, vice provost of regional campuses and distance education. "Distance education programs allow people to achieve goals they never thought they could reach."
Michael Mathie, who graduated from the program through USU Richfield in May 2006, benefited from the flexibility of the program.
"This undergraduate business program has helped me fulfill educational goals that would have been otherwise impossible, or extremely difficult, while working full-time to support my family," Mathie said.
Mathie was positive about the course availability.
"I rarely had trouble filling my schedule with the classes I needed," he said "Most students only attend part-time, which makes for easier scheduling, but I was still able to fill five straight semesters of full-time credits with classes that began after 5 p.m. Along with those night classes, I found several online and print-based courses to fill my schedule. The business courses were offered frequently enough to take as many, or as few, as necessary."
During the summer, Mathie moved his wife and three children to Moscow, Idaho, where he is attending law school.
"At first, I was worried that I would not get accepted to law school since I did not take classes on a campus or in-person," Mathie said. "Over the past six weeks of law school, I have met and spoken with many students and realized my courses and overall degree are no different from theirs. I earned a bachelor's degree just like them."
Douglas D. Anderson, dean of the College of Business, predicts that those who graduate through distance education will have valuable contributions to make in the workplace.
"Our programs are accessible and flexible but our academic standards are high," he said. "I have great respect for those who push on to get a degree through these programs. I would think employers would also recognize that successful students who manage to graduate, working nights and weekends, are going to have the kind of entrepreneurial spirit they want to harness. Those graduates will become the leaders in any company. We are honored that we can play a key role in helping them achieve their dreams."
USU's bachelor's degree in business can be completed through distance education centers and regional campuses, Menlove said. Students desiring a specialized business degree can attend campus for as little as two semesters and take the specific courses needed.
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