By Jennifer Stanley

As Director of Non-Traditional Enrollment at Central Baptist College in Conway, Amy Reed works with non-traditional students to determine their path to an advanced degree. The program was implemented in the fall of 1999. "We saw a desire and a need for adult learners to obtain a college education, but due to busy work schedules and hectic lifestyles there wasn't a program offered to meet that desire or need," says Amy.
Specifically, the Professional Adult College Education, or PACE, program offers an opportunity for working adults to earn a college degree. Most PACE students either left college or never had an opportunity to begin college because of family or job obligations. "Unlike many traditional programs, the PACE program was designed to meet the needs of busy, working adults," shares Amy. PACE courses meet one night per week from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Most courses can be completed in five weeks.
As director, Amy works with first time entering students interested in earning a college education. "I sit down with the student and look at the degrees they might be interested in, show them the classes that are required for that particular degree, and get them ready for their educational future," she says. Her colleague, Pam Sims, works with students who have had some higher education hours and are interested in degree completion, and Robin Stephens serves as the director of military relations. "You would be surprised at the number of people who graduated from high school and who realize years later the importance and value of a college education," adds Amy.
Amy's role extends beyond advisement. "I make weekly calls to individuals and businesses, especially those with employer reimbursement for education, and discuss their educational options. Our PACE and online programs have been a great fit for many." Indeed, 11,061 students have enrolled in the PACE program since its 1999 inception.The enrollment process is fairly standard as follows:
⢠A prospective student completes an application.
⢠The recruiter communicates with the student and retrieves the required documents needed for entrance (i.e. transcripts from their high school if they are first time entering and transcripts from other colleges in which they have attended if they are transfer students).
⢠The school retrieves placement scores (for example ACT, Asset, and Compass) and shot records.
⢠The student completes the FAFSA and the academic challenge application.
⢠The above documents are sent to the registrar, and the student waits for final approval.
The time needed to complete the degree varies by student; it is largely determined by the amount of hours a student transfers in and how many hours the student completes per semester. "We are always looking at ways to expand and change our program as the need arises for our adult learners. We are currently in discussions about adding more degrees and improving the degrees already in place," states Amy.
When asked about success stories, Amy struggles to decide on just a few. "There are so many success stories; I can't begin to list them all. Working in this job, you realize how important and personal a college degree is for many adult students. I have seen students in tears because they never thought they would be afforded the opportunity to come back. I have seen some send their own children to college and decide, 'Hey, I've never done that myself. This is my time!' I myself am in the program, and when I graduate next May, I will be the first one in my immediate family to graduate from college. It truly is a pleasure to watch people obtain something they thought was impossible.
"That is why we are here."