Hybrid campuses have potential for online programs in higher education.

Are hybrid campuses higher ed’s future?

Hybrid campuses offer working adults a fresh alternative to traditional campuses, including drop-in support services and co-working spaces

As “nontraditional” students–those who have work or family obligations or who did not enroll in higher education straight from high school–grow in numbers, institutions are finding new and unique ways to meet their needs. Hybrid campuses are one way to support these nontraditional student groups in their quest for higher education.

Hybrid campuses typically offer coaching, academic services, and courses designed to meet the gaps in student support that online students and working adults sometimes encounter.

Related content: Does your online program hit the right notes?

Strayer University just launched its twentieth hybrid campus, with more hybrid campuses slated in the coming year. These hybrid campuses are designed to provide working adults enrolled online with convenient access to drop-in services such as success coaches, admissions officers, and support staff.
“While online learning has transformative potential, distance learners still benefit immensely from a sense of community, peer networking and support services historically equated with the on-campus experience,” says Cale Holman, Strayer’s chief academic officer and provost. “Through this work, our goal is to eliminate the false choice between the very best of online and the best of in-person services by creating café style campus models that foster community and deliver support resources tailored to the needs of working and online learners.”

Capella University, an online university tailored to meet the needs of working adults, just launched its first hybrid campus in June. The hybrid campus, called the Campus Center, will help students access enrollment counselors, academic advisers, and collaborative study spaces. The Campus Center also will host visits with local employer partners, giving students a space to conduct informational sessions and meet with current learners and alumni.

“Contemporary learners juggle multiple responsibilities while pursuing a degree, including family and work responsibilities. Capella is committed to providing a flexible education with personalized support to help them succeed,” says Dick Senese, president of Capella University. “While our learners will continue to take classes exclusively online, our new Atlanta Campus Center will offer in-person resources unique to most online education programs.”

Strayer’s hybrid campuses feature collaborative spaces, similar to co-working offices, for students to study, work and meet with peers and faculty, in locations that are located in downtown, metropolitan areas. Students can also access extended networking and career development opportunities, including resume-building workshops, interview prep sessions, and other mentoring opportunities.

Strayer students who live near a campus complete their courses and continue into their next terms at higher rates than students who do not live near a campus, according to university findings.

“This is about putting ourselves in the shoes of our students, to create an experience that reflects their aspirations and a support network that puts them on a path to better outcomes,” says Latrissa Jacobs, Strayer University campus director, Fort Worth, Texas. “When online students have access to not only convenient support services, but a community, we can help them tackle challenges that come their way inside–and out of–the classroom.”

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Laura Ascione

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