"When I heard about the accelerated courses, it encouraged me to continue forward. Cedar Crest College and the Center for Lifelong Learning make the impossible possible for anyone who has a demanding job, family, or something else holding them back."

- J.A., Cedar Crest College

"Three Credits in Two Weekends"
- Cedar Crest College
  November 2009

Cedar Crest College, a small liberal arts college in Allentown, PA is dedicated to providing a strong undergraduate program for women as well as offering opportunities for adult, nontraditional students to complete degrees through the Lifelong Learning and graduate programs. A recipient of scholarship grants from the Newcombe Foundation since 1981, Cedar Crest exemplifies an institution that has its "finger on the pulse" of mature women students, responding to their needs through creative initiatives in programming that offer options to women whose time is often limited by family and work responsibilities. The Newcombe Foundation continues to value its partnership with Cedar Crest College.

The following overview of the "Three Credits in Two Weekends" program was contributed by David Jwanier of Cedar Crest College.

Cedar Crest is a traditional women's college that has been meeting the needs of a growing lifelong learning student base for many years. As the lifestyles of the approximately 900 adult students who attend the College have gotten busier and more complex with work and family obligations, Cedar Crest strives to do everything possible to afford the flexibility adult students need. Since its establishment as the Program of Return to Advanced Learning (PORTAL) program in 1968, The Center for Lifelong Learning at Cedar Crest College has graduated more than 2,000 adult students.

One of the initiatives at Cedar Crest which has proven popular with lifelong learners is "Three Credits in Two Weekends," a program that enables students to take a three-credit class in an intensive format during consecutive weekends or weekends sandwiched around an open weekend–a marked departure from the 14- or 15-week commitment for the typical college course. To ensure academic consistency, student contact hours, as well as course outcomes and objectives in the "Two Weekend" courses are comparable to that of a traditional class. Faculty from each discipline select appropriate courses to be offered in this condensed format. Courses offered through "Three Credits in Two Weekends" are open to all Cedar Crest students, but few traditional students register for this intensive format.

Newcombe Scholars, joined by Nancy Hollinger,
Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning and President Carmen Twillie Ambar, are recognized at a Scholarship Luncheon at Cedar Crest College.

"We created this program so that people with busy lifestyles could take classes on a schedule that best meets their needs," said Lifelong Learning Center Director Nancy Hollinger. "Students get the same high quality programming on the weekend as they would during the week, but at a time that for many is more convenient."

Students say the "Three Credits in Two Weekends" fulfills their needs in a multitude of ways. Cheryl Handler, a lifelong learning student from Kempton, PA, began taking college courses about ten years ago, and she has been studying at Cedar Crest College for the last four years. An LPN who works the evening shift as well as every other weekend, Handler said the course flexibility that Cedar Crest College offers–coupled with her employer's willingness "to help me out with my school schedule"–has been a key to her moving closer to earning her bachelor's degree in education. She plans to graduate in May 2011. "I like to have the option of taking classes on the weekends mainly due to my work and family schedule," said Handler. "The classes are intense but it is worth the time away from my family for those weekends, and it allows me to take more credits in a semester than I would be able to do without the weekend classes. The professors are terrific. They are willing to help out both lifelong learning and traditional students any way they can."

Fellow lifelong learner Janelle Alfano agreed that the program is ideal for adult students. An Allentown native, Alfano had taken courses at North Carolina State University after graduating from high school in 2004. Two years later, she moved back to the Lehigh Valley to spend more time with her family. After taking a year off, she resumed her college education at Cedar Crest College in 2008, and plans to earn her B.S. in Business Management in December.

"Going to work and then having to turn around and go to class can be very challenging at times. The accelerated weekend classes at Cedar Crest College have allowed me to work full-time and complete my four-year degree without hassle. In two weekends, I am able to complete a class that would have taken 14 weeks for me to complete (with a regular course schedule). It's a no brainer," she said.

A case specialist for Lehigh Valley Domestic Relations Section, Alfano is studying for her degree in order to advance her career by becoming a conference officer, a job that requires conferencing with parents to determine an appropriate level of child support. She said the time she spent in class at Cedar Crest will no doubt help her in future endeavors.

"I've definitely liked the fact that class sizes are small and the professors know a great deal about what they're teaching. Everyone has been very helpful. I have nothing but good things to say about my time at Cedar Crest," she said. Cedar Crest College professors who teach in this intensive format say it works very well for lifelong learning students who are seeking the type of experiential learning they can immediately take back to their jobs.

"The course is experiential in nature. Students learn about the relationships and connections between theories and practice," said Psychology Professor Diane Moyer, who teaches a course titled Principles of Helping Relationships. "Since students are actively involved in the experience, the accelerated format works well. The consistency and length of time lends itself to a good learning experience."

Gaetan Giannini, chair of the Business, Management and Economics Department at Cedar Crest, said the "Three Credits in Two Weekends" format works well in his Power, Influence and Negotiation class.

"Two weekend classes allow us to do real-world activities that could never be done in a standard class format. For example, we conduct an intense role play that is a three party, team negotiation that includes arbitrators that could never be finished in a normal class period," said Giannini. "We also take a field trip to the mall or to a popular retailer to conduct a scavenger hunt focused on finding the different ways marketers attempt to influence consumers. Students have actually told me that this class has made or saved them considerable sums of money and given them confidence they've never had before."

"Three Credits in Two Weekends" offers courses in a variety of academic areas including art, business administration, geological science, marketing, music, political science, sociology, and more. The next round of these courses is slated for consecutive weekends in January 2010. In addition to the weekend offerings, Cedar Crest College offers a wide variety of day and evening courses for lifelong learning and traditional students, to meet any schedule. The College offers more than 35 academic majors ranging from accounting to social work.

For information on programs, contact the Lifelong Learning Center at Cedar Crest College at lifelong@cedarcrest.edu, or call (610) 740-3770.

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