Free pre-college program offered for adults
“It is never too late to go back to school,” according to Andrea Hansen, Self-Sufficiency Program Director at UW-La Crosse. “SSP is a free pre-college program that can help low-income single parents and other adults discover this for themselves.”
The 13-week evening program is offered every fall and spring semesters at UW-La Crosse, with a new program beginning on Tuesday, September 17. Applicants must have either a high school diploma, a GED or HSED, and may have some college credits.
Students meet at UW-L to learn about career interests, programs of study, and admission and financial aid procedures. “The chance to meet representatives from UW-LaCrosse, Viterbo University, and Western in a small group setting is a real bonus,” according to Hansen. “Making decisions about college and taking action is much easier when you have met an actual person.”
Interested individuals can apply online at www.uwlax.edu/ssp. Applications can be requested by calling 608.785.8733 or contacting Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no cost for the program and on-site childcare is provided for each session.
The heart of the program is the practice of college level work in a supportive environment. Participants engage in reading, writing, and discussion; and, an opportunity to refresh rusty math skills is also offered.
“Everyone is anxious about being successful in college. Fears are multiplied if you are no longer ‘college-aged’ or have had your education and vocational paths disrupted by early parenthood, domestic violence, economic hardships, or other challenges,” says Hansen. “SSP helps students develop confidence as learners, earners, parents, and as individuals.”
Participants who complete SSP are eligible to apply for SSP’s Locally Grown Scholarships that range from $300-$750 each semester. The Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE) reports that students who are over 25 make up 47 percent of the new and returning student population on many of today's college campuses.
They are, in fact, the fastest growing educational demographic, according to the U.S. Department of Education. (Source: www.back2college.com). SSP began in 1988 as an outreach program of the UW-La Crosse Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department. Over 600 individuals have completed SSP with many students graduating from college with degrees and careers in nursing, education, law, medicine, art, social work, and other areas.
“We know SSP can positively influence two generations. The children of SSP participants see their parents as college students. They begin to feel comfortable in a college environment and start to imagine themselves as college students, too,” says Hansen.
According to the UW System website, www.uwhelp.wisconsin.edu, a college degree can mean increased earnings, more benefits, better working conditions, higher job satisfaction and improved quality of life for the children of college-educated parents.