University of Phoenix fills online, campus classrooms

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University of Phoenix may have shut the doors on its Alpharetta-South Forsyth campus after a year-long experiment, but that hasn’t slowed demand for classes. Most students prefer the Dunwoody campus because it is convenient to their jobs. And many of them are coming from the downtown area.

The university has found its MBA program is its most popular offering, said. Seven specialties are available in the program: accounting, global management, health care management, human resources management, marketing, technology management and public administration.

“We have programs all the way from associate to doctorate,” Hilliard said.

Most students in the MBA program are employed by major companies around metro Atlanta, with most of the Fortune 500 companies with Atlanta offices well represented. Hilliard said these students tell her they take information straight from the classroom to their jobs, using the concepts learned one night to the office the next morning.

“They enjoy that opportunity and the employers enjoy that – they see firsthand what their tuition is paying for,” she said.

A student in Hilliard’s class used what she learned about resolving unhealthy conflict. She told Hilliard and her classmates she was having a hard time with her team at work, but after they took what she learned, the conflict was resolved.

“They use exactly what they learn back with their employees,” Hilliard said.

Like the rest of the faculty at University of Phoenix, she is a practitioner.

“All the classes are taught by practiioners – becaue they are individuals that are working in that field,” Hilliard said. “Students are getting real-life classroom education.”

A law class will be taught by a lawyer or judge. One practitioner, a local judge, came to class with his judicial robes still on becaue he left straight from the courtroom to the classroom.

Students spend anywhere from 18 to 22 months to complete their masters’ degrees, with flexibility allowed by the non-traditional school. Hilliard said students like that because they have work, personal life and civic duties as well.

The University of Phoenix has its E-Resources, which includes a library that is completely electronic. The Center for Writing Excellence offers quick feedback on students’ work, with the Center for Math Excellence offering math tutoring in real time.

The E-Resources extends to earning a degree online. Hilliard said an Atlanta student just graduated with a masters in education. A teacher at a local elementary school and mother of three children, she needed the online option. Logging in at 9 every night, she had access to education without leaving her children home alone.

“She said having that opportunity, not only did it enhance her lifestyle, but it’s also going to enhance her three kids’ lifestyle because of that,” Hilliard said.

In today’s economy, she siad this kind of career stepping stone is needed. A bachelor’s degree is needed for most any job. To be competitive often requires advanced degrees.

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