Working full time makes it challenging and almost impossible for some to earn a degree at the same time.
That’s why Wichita State University is providing another option that university President John Bardo shared in the nation’s capital Wednesday at an innovation forum.
It’s called the “badge program.”
Carrying heavy books and long walks to class are not a concern for Tawny Blumenshine-Fisher.
Her classes are all online, making it easier to take care of everyday activities.
“I work full time at Textron Aviation,” said Tawny. “I also have four kids at home. So, coming to get a full on master’s degree just wouldn’t work for me.”
But, these aren’t your everyday online courses. They’re part of the badge program.
“Badges are defined at Wichita State as being short courses of one hour or less, designed for non-degree-seeking individuals,” said Kim Moore, director of WSU’s workforce, professional and community education.
The goal is to provide work-based skills for people already on the go, like Tawny.
She works in the composite shop at Textron, so she’s earning badges in composite awareness.
“It’s more specifically tied to aspects of your job,” said Tawny. “So, you’re able to really focus on what you need for your career.”
Since being a school in the forefront of the program, President Bardo shared the innovation in front of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Wednesday.
“Think about if you’re a 30-year-old woman, divorced with three kids, trying to keep the family together,” he said. “How do you commit to 15 weeks for four years to get a degree? But, you may be able to get someone to watch your kids for a long weekend to begin getting that education.”
Tawny says this flexibility of being able to take the classes when you can is a benefit.
“It’s really nice to just be able to sit down when I have the time to review it and do the homework,” she said.
Five of the six colleges at WSU offer the badges.
You can get undergraduate and graduate credit for those badges.