STARKVILLE — There are 13 times the number of working adult learners in the country than traditional college-aged learners, Mississippi Institutes for High Learning Assistant Commissioner for Government Relations Kim Gallaspy told The Dispatch on Friday.
The creation of a new college at Mississippi State University is seeking to help those non-traditional, adult students continue their education — whether through degrees or certifications.
The IHL board on Thursday unanimously approved merging the existing Center for Distance Education and Center for Continuing Education to create the College of Professional and Continuing Studies.
Susan Seal, executive director for CDE, was named the inaugural dean for the CPCS.
“I’m looking forward to seeing students who didn’t think college was for them or maybe they had missed their opportunity because they’re in the workforce,” Seal told The Dispatch. “Seeing those success stories of people either coming back or getting another skill that helps them advance in their career, that’s what we’re here for. … Sometimes people pass what we think of as traditional college-age and think they missed their opportunity.”
A MSU press release said plans are to move the university’s bachelor of applied science degrees in public management and business office technology to the CPCS, offer non-credit continuing education courses while creating pathways for a micro-credentialing program and provide enhanced student success services.
Seal said one such micro-credentialing program would relate to virtual reality, which is nine credit hours and would include classes such as introduction to the Metaverse, content creation and a portfolio class where participants can build their own virtual reality.
CPCS will be housed at Memorial Hall across from the north side of Davis Wade Stadium, which currently houses the CDE and English Language Institute. Seal said there will be a college kickoff toward the end of the month where the employees of the college, formerly the two centers, will get to meet each other.
“We’ve laid the foundation to get to this point, so now we start putting the walls up and really building things and identifying next steps,” Seal said. “All of our staff will have a part in building that. … It’s not like one unit is moving into another unit. Both units are moving into a new thing. Both units are moving into and building together this new college. We feel like one big family, and that’s what Mississippi State is about.”
Gallaspy said there is a national trend to focus more on the wide audience of adult learners and colleges such as Oklahoma State, University of Alabama and University of Virginia have similar colleges or schools for non-traditional students.
“The percentage of Mississippi adult learners who do not have a college degree is even higher than the national average,” Gallaspy said.
“The College of Professional and Continuing Studies will work to meet the needs of adult learners and provide them with the tools they need to be relevant in an ever changing economic and work environment.”
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