Jan 17, 2014

First Adult Evening Cohort Group Graduates

Photo Caption: Pictured, left to right: Amber Cook, Columbia; Sara Fischer, Thompson's Station; Jennifer Baskin, Lyles; James Addison, Columbia; and Alissa Andrews, Columbia.

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. - Jan. 17, 2014) - - - The first group of students from Columbia State Community College's adult evening cohort program graduated Dec. 14 during the fall 2013 commencement ceremony held in the Webster Athletic Center.

The program is designed to allow a group of students, known as a "cohort," to take the same classes together in a planned schedule. This format encourages students with similar goals to form connections with their classmates, participate in study groups and ultimately provide support for one another throughout the program.

New mom and Lyles resident, Jennifer Baskin chose the cohort program because of the convenience. She earned an Associate of Science degree in sociology and plans to attend Austin Peay State University this spring where she'll major in social work. She hopes to eventually work in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

"I enjoyed the close-knit support group," Baskin said. "They helped pull me through, and we encouraged each other to finish the program in a quick time frame."

The cohort program offers a clearly defined path to graduation, students know exactly which classes to take, how much it will cost and the length of time it will take to complete their degree. Students can major in sociology, history, criminal justice, accounting, business administration, economics, information systems, and early childhood education, or they may choose a general transfer degree path.

"We've individualized the pathways to serve each student's needs," said Kelley Pujol, coordinator of evening services and cohort programs. "Students come in at different levels, and we want to attempt to make the program work for all of them."

James Addison wants to teach special needs children at the elementary school level, so he chose the adult evening cohort program's general transfer option. He completed his degree program in August and is already enrolled and taking classes through Western Governor's University where he plans to earn a bachelor's degree in special education. He currently works at The King's Daughters' School in Columbia.

"I enjoyed the cohort experience, and it is definitely doable," Addison said. "I had a 7th grade education and had earned a GED, but I knew I had to do something else. I liked that we all worked together, and with a great tutoring staff to help, I was able to stay on top of it."

Thompson's Station resident, Sara Fischer is already working for the Department of Children's Services in Nashville. She completed her Associate of Science in sociology this past August and immediately began taking classes at Middle Tennessee State University where she is pursuing a bachelor's degree in sociology.

"It was nice to be paired up with other non-traditional students," Fischer said. "I could relate to the other students, and we helped each other tremendously. We also had amazing professors that truly cared about us and provided so much feedback."

Fischer plans to continue working for DCS after she graduates from MTSU at the end of the fall 2014 semester. Her daughter Adrianne is currently a dual-enrolled EMT-IV student at Columbia State.

The adult evening cohort program is part of the "Finish Faster" program, which is designed to help students graduate in two years or less. Students who have to balance work, family and school will find the program tailored to their needs.

"If they follow the cohort pathway, they can earn their degree in six semesters or less," Pujol said. "If adults want to return to school, we want to work with them to make Columbia State the choice for them."

Anyone interested in the adult evening cohort program should contact Kelley Pujol at (931) 540-2862, Monday - Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. For additional information about the "Finish Faster" programs, visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/Finish-Faster.

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee's first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the sixth largest higher education system in the nation. For more information, please visit www.columbiastate.edu.

Tennessee's Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at tncommunitycolleges.org.

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