Since its start in 2010, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls adult degree completion program in Hudson has now graduated 100 students with degrees in business administration.
The milestone was reached the fall semester of 2017 seven years after the program started.
"To reach that milestone was pretty significant for us," said Michael Bilden, assistant dean for adult students.
Typically about 100 students total are part of the program at a time, with 10 to 20 students graduating per year.
The program, as the name tells, is designed for adults looking to continue or start their college education. Most students are often working in the field, Bilden said, and want their bachelor's degree in order to move up in their career or satisfy a personal goal.
"It's a personal goal or it's a professional goal," Bilden said.
The average age of students is around 35, 36, said Bilden, ranging from 20 to 60. When the program first started, Bilden said that average was closer to 40.
Most students are part-time, taking two to three courses, or six to nine credits, per semester. Summers are a busier time.
With the program focusing on the one major, business administration, course scheduling is more flexible. Classes are one night a week, either three hours for a semester, or four hours for seven to eight weeks.
"We stay to a one night a week schedule to minimize the amount of time they actually have to come here," Bilden said.
Completion time varies typically between two to four years, as students come in with different amounts of previous education.
Previous credits are accepted, and the program also uses a prior learning assessment to determine what credits they may have earned from college-level learning in their career, hobby or through self-study.
"It can be a pretty daunting project or thought to come back to college," Bilden said. So he works to make things easier for students.
Bilden serves as the sole advisor for the students in the program, working with them personally through each step of their education and making adjustments as needed.
"It really helps, having one advisor," Bilden said.
Some students take time off for work or family, and the program will continue to work with them.
Business administration is the only major offered in this program.
"It seems to fit what people are looking for in the workplace," Bilden said. "We choose the b.a. Because it's the most applicable to a wide range of jobs."
Those in the program work in a variety of jobs including real estate, mid-level management, owners and entry-level employees.
"Most people are involved in some kind of business function," Bilden said.
Adult students do still have the option to go to regular classes on campus.
"Everything is open to them," Bilden said.
This adult program is designed specifically for them, though, Bilden said.
"It's tough for people to fit college into their schedule," Bilden said.
With the first 100 graduated, the program is looking to have 129 by May.
"So now it's starting to accelerate even more," Bilden said.
People are sometimes reluctant to look into going back to college, but Bilden said it's always good to see where they're at.
"Just find out," he said. "Because a person might be closer than they think to degree completion."