- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2002

The University of Phoenix, America's largest independent accredited school, has opened a Reston campus, benefiting students such as Tom Champ.
Mr. Champ, 48, whose quest to earn a master's degree in business while working full time was putting an "unbelievable strain" on his family, is now attending one evening class per week.
He also meets with a team of students on weekends to complete assignments. Students take one course at a time, but earn degrees in the same two to three years as traditional students because they work through summer and semester breaks.
"Our goal is to provide a convenient education within 20 minutes of wherever you are," said University of Phoenix spokeswoman Ayla Guvenoz. The Arizona-based university has 116 campuses and learning centers in 23 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, plus a 45,000-student-strong online degree program.
Mr. Champ was enrolled in the university's online master's course, but felt "logistically challenged" until the Reston campus opened near his home.
UOP has 125,000 students, more than twice that of the University of Texas, the nation's largest traditional college, which enrolled 52,000 this semester.
"We're serving a sector that has been underserved in the past," Mrs. Guvenoz said.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost three-quarters of undergraduates are in some way "nontraditional," such as Danielle Smith, 25, a single mother from Northern Virginia. Miss Smith delayed her education before attending Baltimore's Morgan State University. After a year, she dropped out.
"It was cool, but it wasn't working," she said. At the University of Phoenix, Miss Smith is the youngest in her class, unlike at traditional colleges where most students enroll immediately after high school and have little professional work experience.
Most students arrive at Phoenix after attending four or five colleges. Miss Smith is earning a bachelor's in business management.
"Once people start catching on to this school, it will be the preferred way to go," she said. At first, Miss Smith feared a stigma associated with adult education, but now she is impressed with the quality of education at the university.
"It is not a Mickey Mouse sort of a thing," she said.
The University of Phoenix offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in business, technology, management, education, nursing, counseling and criminal justice. The Reston campus offers four degree programs: bachelor's in business, technology, and information technology, as well as a master's in business.
The courses are aligned with a national need for health care providers, more teachers and business managers. The university minimizes the use of textbooks, preferring interactive assignments that simulate the workplace. It also requires teachers to work in the fields they teach.
As working adults, students bring their work experience to the classroom. "I learn as much from them as they learn from me," said professor Lawrence Oliva, who earned a master's in business administration from the school.
Mr. Champ says he also hopes to teach at Phoenix.
"At the end of all this business jam," he said, "the plan is to give back as an instructor."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide