Last December, NAU’s
competency-based education degree program, Personalized Learning, awarded its
first three diplomas. Launched in June 2013, Personalized Learning is a
rigorous, self-paced education degree program that awards credit for knowledge
and skills acquired instead of time spent in class.
Among the graduates is Richard
Brandt, who works for a title insurance company in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Richard
had completed some college and computer classes in the past and now wanted to complete
a bachelor’s degree online.
Enter Personalized Learning.
Richard’s IT experience made him
a perfect candidate for the Computer Information Technology degree. “I chose the
Personalized Learning program over similar options because of the competency-based
curriculum,” he says. “As a professional working in the field I was studying,
it was a great boon to me to be able to use my existing knowledge to show that
additional time spent 'in class' wasn't a necessary component to meet the goals
I had for my time in college.”
Richard has a family and a
full-time job. For him, going back to school was about finally getting
that diploma to advance his career. “I wasn’t looking for a classroom experience,”
says Richard. “With my schedule and necessary timeframe, my goal was to be able
to show my employer and prospective graduate programs that I was prepared for
the next steps in my career and education.”
Personalized Learning isn’t for
everyone. Just ask Richard. “I have encouraged people I know who have not yet
finished their undergraduate education to look at the PL program, emphasizing
that it is perhaps best-suited to those who are autodidacts by nature and do
not require a course deadline as a motivator, and those who are already prone
to studying subjects without the benefit of a classroom setting.”
While Personalized Learning is a
different way to earn your degree, it meets Northern Arizona University’s
rigorous degree requirements. When Richard earned his Bachelor of Science in
Computer Information Technology, his diploma reads the same as all NAU graduates.
"I will admit to a certain pride
in my commencement; it was probably as exciting for my kids, though, to see
that Dad finished college and to know that I have a fighting chance of getting
in to one of the graduate programs I've had my eye on,” he says. “I should have
finished my undergrad work years ago - and now I have the parchment that shows
that I have.”
Congratulations Richard and the
rest of Personalized Learning’s new graduates!
An earlier version of this article contained misquotes that have been corrected.