Colleges bring accelerated adult learning to Cedar Rapids
In 2013, Kirkwood Community College and Mount Mercy University mark their 15th year of a landmark partnership that provides working adults with a quality accelerated path to a bachelor’s degree.
“Our partnership with Mount Mercy has provided a tremendous service to working adults in this area,” said Kay Bone, program manager for Kirkwood’s adult accelerated learning formats. “By ensuring consistency between the colleges and providing joint academic advising, students can seamlessly transfer. No one else in the state is offering this kind of approach for busy adults.”
“The accelerated degree partnership between the two schools is not only convenient and fast, it manages to maintain the highest degree of academic quality, while providing individual support for students as they transition between the two schools,” said Tom Castle, associate provost at Mount Mercy University. “Nearly 1,300 working adults have earned their four-year degrees through this important partnership, and the impact these students have on our community is immeasurable.”
The program, focused mainly on business degrees, gives students choices between five- and 10-week blocks of night classes at the Kirkwood Linn County Regional Center in Hiawatha. By starting at Kirkwood, students earn their general education and early electives, equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. Students then transfer those credits to Mount Mercy to complete their four-year degrees.
“Kirkwood and Mount Mercy have identical schedules, which allows our students to finish a class at Kirkwood one week and start at Mount Mercy the next without losing any time,” Bone said. “Plus, we offer joint advising. Students meet with both a Mount Mercy and a Kirkwood advisor at the same time to plan for a seamless transition between schools. It saves the student a great deal of time and ensures that everyone is on the same page.”
To take advantage of the program, prospective students must be at least 21 years old, have a minimum of three years’ work experience and demonstrate college-level competencies. Bone said this ensures the students can handle the accelerated format. “Most classes have homework due the first night they meet,” she said. “The accelerated format is very convenient for those seeking secondary degrees, however, those involved have to be willing and ready to meet the challenging course load.”
The two colleges, often looked to as leaders and visionaries in the Creative Corridor education scene, are both known for unique solutions and quick response to an ever-changing community.
“The partnership between Mount Mercy and Kirkwood has become a national benchmark for accelerated partnerships. Our two staffs have been asked to present the program structure and merits of our partnership at national conferences, and we intend to continue building on this strong relationship,” Castle said. “We will continue to work together, seeking to provide the highest quality, adult-focused education in the market.”