Enhancing your skill set

It’s a competitive world out there,
and everyone’s looking for an edge
on someone else in the employment pool. Or, perhaps, people just want to
sharpen the skills they already have.

If you fall into this category of people who want to pursue higher education opportunities and advance their
professional standings, you’re in luck.

Opportunities abound today, says
John Washatka, director of Academic
Services for Adult and Graduate
Studies at Mount Vernon Nazarene
University (MVNU) in Mount Vernon,
Ohio, with a Cincinnati campus location.

Whether it’s business or other professional courses, flexibility in scheduling and a variety of courses is in no
short supply.

Smart Business asked Washatka
about what opportunities exist for
those looking to advance their professional education.

What are some of the more popular higher
education programs adults are choosing
these days?

Higher education programs among
adults tend to be professional programs. Popular programs these days
include business management and
leadership, nursing and education.
Among adult and graduate programs
offered at MVNU, we have found the
Bachelor of Business Administration
and the Master of Arts in Education to
be very popular.

Are more adults pursuing higher education
today than in the past?

The number of adults returning or
going to college later in life is increasing. There are two reasons I can see.
First, employers are recognizing the
need for their employees to be educated. If you think that society, as a
whole, is getting more complex, then
problems arising out of that sort of
culture are more complex, too.

Solutions for those problems tend to
be more complex as well.

A college education is an opportunity for students to learn, among other
things, analytical and critical-thinking
skills, communication skills and problem-solving skills. Any employer
would love to see those skills in an

The second reason is the increasing
availability and opportunity for adults
to go to school. More and more colleges are recognizing adults as a constituency they can reach while maintaining their educational mission. As a
result, colleges are building programs
that recognize the specific needs and
characteristics of adult learners, making it possible for adults to go to
school. Related to that is technology,
including computers and the Internet,
that helps assist in the delivery of
those programs.

What kind of options do adults have as far as
courses and schedules?

I want to say the sky’s the limit in
terms of options adults have. It depends on two factors, though. The
first factor is related to the college’s
ability to be entrepreneurial in
responding to adult learner needs.
How far outside the traditional college
box are colleges willing to go? A big
concern related to that is the ability of
the institution offering programs to
maintain academic integrity. Colleges
accredited by regional associations
and agencies have to be careful to
observe accreditation standards
regardless of their method of content

The second factor is the adult students themselves. They have to be
realistic with themselves in terms of
time and resource commitments, their
support network and their academic

While I encourage all adults to get a
degree, some programs will suit some
learners better than others. For example, if students need face-to-face contact or know they’re socially oriented,
then they probably shouldn’t enroll in
an online program. On the other hand,
someone who’s self-motivated may be
able to take advantage of an online
program. Advantages to online programs include a flexible schedule,
increased program choices and the
opportunity to network with professionals around the world.

What financial aid options are available?

While I’m not a financial aid expert, I
believe options are related to the institution offering the program. Students’
best bets are to check with the institutions they’re interested in attending.

JOHN WASHATKA is the director of Academic Services for
Adult and Graduate Studies at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Reach him at [email protected] or (740) 392-6868 ext.