SLCC Among Nation’s Top ‘Innovative Colleges for Adult Learners’

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SLCC recognized for its efforts with competency-based education among its applied technology and technical specialties programs.

A student in one of SLCC's welding courses.

A student in one of SLCC's welding courses.

Our innovative, subscription-based tuition program gives these students the ability to save not only time but money as well.

The national magazine Washington Monthly named Salt Lake Community College to its list of “Twelve Most Innovative Colleges for Adult Learners.” The list recognizes institutions that have adapted to better serve adults who are 25 and older, which is about 40 percent of college enrollment on average around the country. Each institution on the list, the magazine points out, is “doing something right that other schools ought to emulate.”

SLCC was singled out by the Washington, D.C.-based magazine for taking a “risk” on using a $2.3 million federal grant to convert nearly 20 programs in its School of Applied Technology (SAT) over to a competency-based education (CBE) model that began 2014. This grant provided the SAT the resources needed to transition 20 short-term, workforce-based programs from a “clock-hour model” of learning based on time spent in classrooms to a CBE model that emphasizes learning that takes into account skills already acquired, usually on the job. About 70 percent of SLCC students are employed while attending school.

“We strive to make our learning environment conducive to working adults who are coming back for retraining in a new job or to upgrade their skills in their current position,” said Eric A. Heiser, SLCC dean of the School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties. “We believe competency-based education is a great way for adult learners with real-life experience to accelerate their studies and move more quickly towards certificate and/or degree attainment. Our innovative, subscription-based tuition program gives these students the ability to save not only time but money as well.”

SLCC has labs open for its CBE learners from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, and students can come in at different times on different days and make a schedule that works for them instead of having to be in a classroom at a scheduled time each day. To date, SLCC has converted nearly all of the 20 programs covered by the grant to CBE with full completion expected by the end of 2017. SLCC has also been approved by the Department of Education as an “Experimental Site,” which gives it the ability to award federal financial aid dollars to those in CBE programs, opening the door to many new programs participating in CBE. SLCC’s School of Science, Mathematics and Engineering is transitioning its biotechnology program to CBE with a launch date of January 2018. And SLCC’s first associate of applied science program, beginning with automotive, within the School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties, has started the process of transitioning with plans to launch in the fall of 2018. Many other programs at SLCC are considering the shift to the CBE model as well, with an aim toward launching a full-fledged CBE degree program under general education by the end of 2018.

Salt Lake Community College is an accredited, student-focused, comprehensive community college meeting the diverse needs of the Salt Lake community. Home to more than 60,000 students each year, the College is Utah’s leading provider of workforce development programs. SLCC is also the largest supplier of transfer students to Utah’s four-year institutions and a perennial Top 10 college nationally for total associate degrees awarded. The College is the sole provider of applied technology courses in the Salt Lake area, with multiple locations, an eCampus, and nearly 1,000 continuing education sites located throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Personal attention from an excellent faculty is paramount at the College, which maintains an average class size of 20.

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Stephen Speckman
Salt Lake Community College
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