Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers educational opportunities for working adults.
photograph by Amie Vanderford
More and more adults are going back to college to earn their degrees or pursue advanced degrees. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is an ideal place to do that because it focuses on non-traditional students who are not fresh out of college and have been working or raising a family.
“We have people from all walks of life,” says Robin Colwell, director of academic support in Memphis. The average age of the students is between 35 and 45.
Some students enroll to better themselves, while others may be preparing for a military career. Both are goals of Philip Huntington, 29, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Huntington, now a first-class petty officer in the Navy, had a clear plan for how his life would go.
He decided originally to serve four years in the Navy and earn his degree after his discharge. “I wanted to get in, get out, and get my degree,” he says.
After his initial four-year commitment, Huntington’s life plan changed, when he decided he wanted a career in the Navy. One of the main reasons he enrolled at Embry-Riddle in 2009 was because he believed a college degree would provide advancement opportunities.
Because Huntington works a 9-to-5 job, evening classes, which begin at 5:30 and end at 9:30, are a necessity for him. “I really like the fact that Embry-Riddle works so well with military and adult students.” Military personnel make up a large percentage of the student body — 25 percent are active duty and 10 percent are reservists in the National Guard. The other 65 percent are civilians, Colwell says. After she went to work at Embry-Riddle, she, too, earned a master’s degree in Aeronautical Science.
When the university was founded in 1926, it was a flight school. Now only the residential campus in Daytona Beach, Florida, provides flight training. The Memphis campus opened in 1977 at the Naval Air Station in Millington. In 2006 it moved to its current location at 3221 Player’s Club Parkway, near the FedEx World Headquarters. “We already have quite a few students from FedEx,” Colwell says.
Most of the degrees offered at Embry-Riddle are associated in some way with aviation, such as aviation management, which Huntington is working toward. However, Embry-Riddle also offers a bachelor of science degree in transportation, which covers all modes of transportation, and a master of science in project management is offered online.
Another plus for adult students is a teaching method known as EagleVision. With EagleVision, students connect with professors and students at other locations as part of the class curriculum. “Almost all classes are spread to other campuses,” says Reggie Boring, director of academics. “It connects students and professors all over the world.”
Of the 12 classes offered during the summer, only one is lectured in a classroom. Classes are broadcast from the Memphis location, and unlike some classes at traditional universities, when students raise their hands to ask a question, there’s no doubt who was first, Boring explains. To ask or answer questions, students use microphones that are placed on each desk. “It’s a great way to be able to engage in the class,” says Huntington, who says he enjoys using EagleVision. “I like to hear people talk and to talk to them.”
Because the class schedule is tailored for working adults, the university offers condensed, nine-week-long terms. Classes are held once a week Monday through Friday. This is convenient for students who may have to travel for work. Students may take two classes per term, 10 classes a year. “It’s kind of a perfect fit,” Huntington says.
If students need to review material from an EagleVision class, they can watch a video of the whole class, or sections of it, from home.
Embry-Riddle also offers “Blended Learning,” where students are allowed to complete a portion of classwork from home or another remote location. Classroom time cannot be reduced more than 30 percent, but students who cannot stay for an entire session appreciate the opportunity to complete a class using their computers.
Like professors at more traditional schools, the instructor controls everything. Unlike many universities, where students have to wait for office hours to talk with their professors, the Embry-Riddle electronic feature allows them to contact them at any time. “They have total access to the instructors,” Boring says.
For more information, go to erau.edu.