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Oklahoma's Reach Higher program seeks to help adult students return to college

by Silas Allen Published: July 28, 2013

Val Seward has a “fix-it” mentality. When she sees a problem in her community, she wants to do something about it.

But to make a greater impact in her community, Seward knew she'd need a college degree. So two years ago, she enrolled in classes at Rose State College.

Although the experience was intimidating at first, Seward got support along the way from an Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education program designed to encourage students like her.

While she was a student at Rose State, Seward enrolled in Reach Higher, a state program that works with working adult students who have some college credit but no degree. The program is designed to connect those students with the resources they'll need to complete college.

Seward lives in northeast Oklahoma City. There's “a lot of lack” in her neighborhood, she said. There aren't many community centers or other places for people such as her teenage son to go after school, she said. She'd like to open a center in the community, but she didn't know how to get started.

So Seward enrolled at Rose State, initially intending to complete her general education requirements and then work her way into the college's criminal justice program. But she heard about a similar degree offered through Reach Higher. She applied to the program and was accepted.

Access to classes

The program works as a kind of consortium of 14 state colleges and universities that offer in-person and online courses geared toward working adults. The program is geared toward students who have some college credit but dropped out before completing, said Debbie Blanke, the State Regents' associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

The program gives students a way to go back to college without disrupting their lives, Blanke said. That's especially important for students who live in rural Oklahoma and can't move or commute for college.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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