Not every student gets on the path to college directly after high school. In Thurston County, according to the Thurston Regional Planning Council, about 50,000 residents have some college, but no degree, while an additional 20,000 have an associate’s degree and would like to finish their bachelor’s. If you’re one of those people, that degree could be closer (and cheaper) than you think. At The Evergreen State College’s Evening and Weekend Studies program, faculty and staff work hard to help you succeed all the way to graduation.
“Evergreen’s Evening and Weekend Studies, along with our Tacoma Program and our Native Pathways Program, provides adult learners flexible ways to earn their bachelor’s degree,” explains Kathleen Eamon, dean of Evening and Weekend Studies, Summer, and Study Abroad. “Evergreen is uniquely transfer-friendly, with few barriers and a lot of possibilities. Evergreen is known for its ‘design-your-own-path’ approach, and we now also offer a range of Paths of Study; Evening and Weekend Studies has particular strengths in the traditional liberal arts, business, organizational leadership, the studio arts, world languages and psychology.”
She is proud of their welcoming atmosphere and is impressed by the breadth and depth of the work students and faculty do together. “The Evening and Weekend Studies curriculum is designed to support those with busy lives and competing priorities, with a committed core of faculty who have developed expertise in teaching and mentoring non-traditional students,” says Eamon. “The core faculty teach mainly in half-time interdisciplinary ‘programs,’ which might combine the study of state politics with theater, labor history with literature, or creative writing with biology, for example. By organizing learning around themes, big questions, and serious issues, these coordinated studies programs help students and faculty integrate and apply what they’re studying. In addition, the fact that they are coordinated helps reduce the stress of tracking many distinct classes and helps students and faculty build lasting and robust relationships. In addition to half-time programs, Evening and Weekend Studies offers more traditional courses, and students can also develop individual learning contracts, take on internships, and study abroad.”
One proud program graduate is Matt Murata. “I attended the Evening and Weekend program as a returning transfer student. I had picked up and left off my college career a few times and felt a little adrift after UW downsized its own evening program. I knew I wanted to finish my degree but as a primary caregiver for my two kids I needed childcare or an evening program. Evergreen offered the chance for both.”
He felt right at home within what he describes as a student-driven experience. “Instructors understand that students in the program have had significant life events, work and have obligations outside the classroom,” he continues. “They also understand that such multifaceted students bring something special to the classroom and are able to relate the course material to their own experiences in exciting ways. I’ve had deep seminar discussions with people I would have never met outside of the class setting. By bringing together students with real, lived experience there is the opportunity to build bridges between the abstract and daily life.”
Professor Sarah Ryan has taught at Evergreen since the early 1990s. She appreciates how the program’s students, which range in age from traditional 20-somethings to tireless attendees in their 90’s, “attend as a conscious decision and are so motivated.” Many have had interrupted college experiences like Murata and often feel self-conscious about returning later in life. But they are quickly put at ease.
Evergreen, explains Ryan, also has a very generous credit transfer program that even accepts up to 15 hours of certificated credit for things like workforce training. The school’s Upside Down Transfer Option, for example, means that a “technical associate degree from a regionally accredited Washington community or technical college may qualify for 90 lower-division transfer credits after completing the Upside Down Transfer Option process.”
Such tremendous flexibility and willingness to work with students on their unique path has made Evening and Weekend Studies what Ryan calls “a really vibrant program within a community that has great morale” even during these crazy times.
Matt Murata sums it up. “This is a time to be doubling down on education, personally and on a larger scale,” he says. “For anyone who is at a crossroads this moment is the perfect time to attend college. An Evergreen education can be an amazing guide and I hope more students enter the program!”
College is a big step in any household and one worthy of celebrating. But families, jobs, hobbies and life can be competing priorities. If you or someone you know is looking to start or finish a degree, call 360-867–6170 or email admissions@Evergreen.edu. Why wait another day?