Been laid off? Looking for a career change?
Local college cooperative offers options

Beth Rumsey, Staff Writer

The current economic downturn has many wondering about the future. Several businesses are cutting back on employee hours and laying off workers in order to stay afloat. While some people will find a job quickly, many others may find that their skills need to be refreshed to be competitive in the job market. Those who are employed may even consider a career change or improve job skills to increase their pay scale.

According to Mary Ellen Woolum, Associate Coordinator for the College Cooperative Southeast, the CCS provides learning opportunities for post-secondary after high school education for people in Southeast Indiana who are not going away to college. This includes students just finishing high school and working a job or adults who want to earn a degree as they pursue their careers or raise children.

“There are actually almost 130 different degree programs available,” said Woolum. The CCS works with universities across the state such as Ball State, Indiana University, Vincennes, St. Mary of the Woods, and Indiana Wesleyan University. Woolum noted that students can choose from over 2000 courses per semester.

“We are also able to provide classes to college students in the summer,” said Woolum, “or high school juniors and seniors who want to earn dual or college credits.” Brush-up courses are available to those who need to prepare for courses on the college level.

Courses are offered in a variety of ways. For Internet classes, the student can access their assignments on-line, as well as test taking. “CCS provides a computer for students without access to the Internet,” noted Woolum.

Students may also take courses via two-way video conferencing with assignments and tests sent by email or fax; hybrid classes with students attending class on location once a week and another day by Internet or video conference; and finally, some offered “face-to-face” if enough students are signed up for the course.

CCS offers test proctoring. Proctoring is when an instructor emails or faxes a student’s test to the CCS coordinator. The student then takes the test under the coordinator’s supervision. “This is obviously necessary if you are taking an Internet course, but it is convenient for students taking courses elsewhere,” said Woolum.

The cost of distance education varies from school to school, according to Woolum. For instance, Ivy Tech charges $95 per credit hour, with most courses consisting of three credit hours. St. Mary of the Woods, on the other hand, charges $370 per credit hour. But, Woolum assures that financial aid is available for those who do not have the means to pay for classes.

A financial aid workshop will be held on Tuesday, February 10 starting at 7 p.m. at the Southeastern Career Center. Here, high school students and adults who are interested in taking college courses will learn how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

For more information on the workshop or degree programs available, contact the CCS at 812-689-5253, ext. 275. Hours are Monday evenings from 6-9 p.m.; Wednesdays from 1-10 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.