Governor Scott Walker and two top University of Wisconsin leaders unveiled a program Tuesday that's designed to make it easier for working adults to get a college degree. The Flexible Degree model is the first of its kind.
The governor, UW System President Kevin Reilly and UW Extension Chancellor Ray Cross made the announcement in the emergency room at St. Clare's Hospital in the central Wisconsin village of Weston. Reilly spoke about the problems a working adult now has completing a degree, envisioning a 36 year old single mother with a full time job, a house, and two kids: “You abandon your two kids, you sell your house, you put the dog and cat in storage for two years, you come and move into a dorm on our campus and in two years you'll have the degree. What's the problem? This Flexible Degree program will make it possible now to get a quality education, keep their job, keep their kids, even keep the dog and the cat.”
The program will allow workers in places like St. Clare's to translate their job experience into college credit, by passing tests with the help of on-line training. UW Chancellor Ray Cross said students can learn at home, and pay for only what they need, “It makes it accessible, affordable and flexible. Those three things are barriers to most adult students attempting to complete a degree.”
Gov. Walker called the Flexible Degree program the first of its kind, “This is the first public institution in the world that's doing this. And this puts us yet again at the forefront. We talk a lot about the Wisconsin Idea. This is the next generation of the Wisconsin Idea.”
Like the high school dual enrollment program announced last week, the Flexible Degree model was developed within the UW System, and did not require legislation.