Grant Gosselin, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions at Babson College in Wellesley, said enrollment at its graduate business programs have more or less held steady over the past few years, but that the down economy may influence which programs students choose.
“Either professionals don’t want to take time off, and they look at part-time programs, or professionals who find themselves out of work might be interested in full-time programs,” Gosselin said.
In addition to its part-time evening programs and full-time programs, Babson offers an accelerated, 21-month master of business administration program that features a blend of in-person and online learning.
At Massachusetts Bay Community College — which has campuses in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland — midcareer adults returning to the classroom is par for the course, said spokesman Jeremy Solomon. Like most community colleges, MassBay caters to students seeking convenient and inexpensive educational options close to home, Solomon said.
“A lot of our students have spent time in the workforce and are now returning for educational opportunities here,” Solomon said. “That includes taking a class or two, or pursuing a certificate, or pursuing their associate’s degree. We see a wide array of students here who are returning to school from the workforce.”
Solomon dismissed studies that show low completion rates for students who enter community colleges, noting that those numbers penalize community colleges for students who transfer their credits to four-year colleges without first completing a course of study at the community college.
“To us, that’s a success story,” Solomon said of transfer students. “Many students who come here never intend to complete a program.”
Solomon said MassBay constantly reevaluates its course offerings and strives to offer programs that will give students the skills to be successful in thriving industries in the region. A lot of the industries that are experiencing growth are between Route 128 and Interstate 495, “which is right where we are,” Solomon said. “We have a lot of opportunities to link our offerings to what we’re seeing from business and industry in the region.”
Wellesley College has long had an alternative admissions program for nontraditional students. Susan Cohen, director of the program, said most students pursue a liberal arts education at Wellesley for personal growth, but a desire for career advancement can also be a motivator for returning to school.
“Many people are finding that not having an undergraduate degree is getting in the way of their career advancement or their work,” Cohen said.
Moriarty, the Mount Ida vice president, said that despite some people questioning its worth relative to its cost, a college education is still a good investment.
“You hear that over and over again, is a college degree still worth it,” Moriarty said. “In the short run, it’s not an easy answer. But in the long run, no one can take it away from you. While it might not make a difference today, 10 years from now you’ll be very happy you have the degree.”
Calvin Hennick can be reached at email@example.com.