Center for Adult Learning
- Bloomfield College
As an urban campus serving a very diverse student population near Newark, NJ, Bloomfield's 2,000 students represent fifty nationalities, and twenty-three percent of Bloomfield's students are mature women. The Newcombe Foundation has provided scholarship funding to Bloomfield since 1981, recognizing the challenges faced by many of Bloomfield's adult women students and celebrating the innovative programs offered in response to the needs of these students.
The following is an overview of programs offered through the Center for Adult Learning by Kathy Guerino, Director of Grants and Prospect Research and Dr. Carolyn I. Spies, Associate Dean for Faculty and Program Development.
Mary W. - A Newcombe Scholar's Story
Many of the adult women students at Bloomfield College have compelling personal histories. Mary is one such student. She is a forty-three-year-old single mother of three and grandmother of one. She and her youngest son fled an abusive family situation several years ago with just their car and the clothes on their backs. Crisscrossing the country twice in search of a new start, she found her way to New Jersey at the suggestion of some extended family. Following her dream of wanting to be a nurse, she enrolled at Bloomfield College in 2007.
The nursing program at Bloomfield is a particularly rigorous one, and even more so for adult students who must work in addition to attending classes and clinicals. Mary currently holds down two jobs while living alone in a room in a boarding house in Newark, NJ. Money is very tight and she sometimes goes without meals to save money for her son's visits on weekends. He currently lives with other relatives because Mary is unable to spend enough time with him due to job and school responsibilities. Needless to say, the challenges Mary must confront each day are overwhelming, but with the help of a Newcombe scholarship and campus resources and programs offered by the College's Center for Adult Learning, she is on her way to completing her degree and to a bright future.
Bloomfield College and the non-traditional female student
Bloomfield College is particularly well-suited to provide educational opportunities to women from diverse racial, ethnic, economic, and age groups. The College offers a minor in women's studies, a certificate in diversity training, majors in allied health technologies, business administration, clinical laboratory sciences, education, nursing, psychology and sociology, and a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program, that are of particular interest to female students. Support services are designed to be responsive to the adult female student population.
Just under half of the College's students are African American and African Caribbean; twenty percent are Hispanic, and four percent are Asian. Over one-third of the College's students are the first in their families to attend college. For many, Bloomfield College is their first exposure to an environment where educational achievement and personal growth are nurtured and encouraged. Inadequate pre-college preparation in urban school districts and time lapses between completion of secondary education and entry into higher education, coupled with family pressures, provide further challenges to many of Bloomfield's adult students.
The Center for Adult Learning
The Center for Adult Learning (CAL), headed by Dr. John Mwaura, provides a variety of scheduling options, academic and pre-professional programs, seminars and support services to meet the needs of the adult learner. The CAL welcomes new and continuing students with patience, flexibility, and professionalism six days a week by offering evening and Saturday hours so that they can access class schedules, advisement, registration, and counseling at their convenience. The CAL offers a comprehensive orientation for adult students entering the accelerated certificate program; new students are fully able to participate in campus life and technology-based classes. The CAL director and staff make every effort to ensure that adult students feel welcome and integrated into the College community.
One initiative that offers a new path to a college degree is the Accelerated Certificate Program, providing the fast-paced, flexible schedule that is so desirable to today's mature students. Certificates in gerontology, network engineering, supply chain management, teacher education and a RN to BSN degree program are offered. Accelerated sessions run in seven-week blocks on a twelve-month calendar. Courses are offered on weeknights (including Fridays) and Saturdays, and many are offered fully online or in hybrid format. Plans are in place to create an Advisory Board comprised of faculty, corporate representatives, students, and CAL staff to enable the College to provide the best possible programs that meet the needs of the adult student. Focus groups and surveys are used to assess student needs and satisfaction with the program and support services. As a result, student satisfaction has increased. Students comment on the special attention they receive and appreciate the recognition of their unique concerns and goals.
In addition, the Women's Resource and Empowerment Center is a mainstay of the programming for mature women students. The center houses publications that focus on women's issues and provides co-curricular and extracurricular activities ranging from "Women Saving the Planet" to knitting classes. "Women Saving the Planet" is a weekly program on environmental issues hosted by or that are about women environmentalists. Additionally, the center runs a parent support group for parents of adolescents, publishes "The Labor Room," participates in the Clothesline Project intended to educate and raise awareness about violence against women, children, and men, and co-sponsors self-defense and Safe Zone workshops.
The Center for Academic Development provides a full complement of academic support services to adult students both on campus and online with resources for improving study skills, reading, writing, math, natural sciences, and research paper writing. Students may sign up online for free, in-person tutoring with availability from 9 am. until 9 pm. on weekdays and Saturdays. In particular, the tutorial program enables adult female students to refresh the algebra skills they have not used and to feel more confident going into the classroom.
To further encourage non-college educated adult women to "take the first step to a new future," Bloomfield offers the Kellman Course in the Humanities to those interested in trying out a college-level course. This is a nationally recognized program based on the Bard Clemente model to introduce college-level work to those adults who did not have the opportunity to continue their education beyond high school. It is a free educational opportunity that provides (mostly) women with college-level instruction by College faculty with two course units in an interdisciplinary curriculum of American history, philosophy, art history, literature, and writing. The Kellman Course has provided the foundation for many adult women to continue their studies both at Bloomfield College and other two- and four-year colleges.
Mary W. - The Future beyond Bloomfield
With the support of her professors, Mary maintains a 3.5 GPA and expects to graduate with her nursing degree in May 2011. "My goal is to be a hospice nurse and specialize in working with the elderly and underserved. The Newcombe Scholarship has helped so much as it has been very hard starting college later in life and it has made the difficult times much easier. You have helped me work hard to become a caring, compassionate and well-educated nurse to assist patients and their families deal with the end-of-life process."