By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
If you’re a man who’s looking for a degree and you thought Judson College in Marion wasn’t an option, you’re wrong.
Michael Bergman said he’s letting the secret out — the historically women’s institution of higher learning does have male students enrolled.
And he said there’s room for many, many more.
All that is thanks to the college’s distance learning program, something that’s been knocking down barriers for years to help people of all ages and stages of life — and of either gender — complete a bachelor’s degree.
“We are working to actively provide quality distance learning courses to all possible students, both traditional college students as well as nontraditional students,” said Bergman, director of distance learning at Judson.
This includes older students who are looking to go back to school for a degree, he said. It includes people unable to travel to Marion to go to class. It also includes dual-enrolled high school students or homeschool students who want to get ahead in their education.
Judson’s online program was recently ranked No. 5 out of 56 in the state by OnlineColleges.com.
Right now, Judson offers these majors: business administration, criminal justice, elementary education, secondary education with majors in social studies and language arts, English, history, interdisciplinary studies, music, psychology, religious studies and Spanish.
Distance students are given student mentors, just like on campus students, and they participate in programs as cohorts. All classes are done completely online with tailored, personal studies, except for music — arrangements are made for students to take applied instrument or voice lessons right where they are for course credit.
It’s proved to be very popular — a third of the college’s music majors are distance-learning students, according to Leah Washburn, enrollment coordinator for distance learning at Judson.
Student Jeremy Davison of Monroe, Louisiana, said the music program has been exactly what he needed. “This has been great in that I really don’t have time to attend a traditional classroom setting,” he said. “It was truly an answered prayer.”
The religious studies major also is popular for bivocational pastors looking for a bachelor’s degree and considering going on to seminary, Washburn said.
“We’re also available to offer courses to students not wanting to pursue degrees,” Washburn said. “For instance we offer courses for music ministers wanting to brush up on conducting or music theory.”
Bergman said Judson’s distance learning is a great opportunity for anyone who would like to take classes on their own schedule from right where they are.
“We’ve had students come out of our distance-learning programs and do great things,” Bergman said.
Judson’s program was one of the first distance learning programs in the state, he said. “It started in the 1980s as a correspondence course by mail, going one-on-one back and forth with an instructor.”
It’s not snail mail anymore but the one-on-one part is still the same, he said.
Frank Sutton, a distance learning student and small-business administrator from Georgia, said those personal relationships with staff were one of his favorite parts of the program.
“The program is flexible and the professors are extremely knowledgeable and helpful,” he said. “I would strongly recommend the Judson College distance learning program to my friends and colleagues.”
For more information, visit www.judson.edu/academics/distance-learning.