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COD, Lewis University Program Offers Students Affordable Education Degree

The College of DuPage and Lewis University hope students will begin enrolling in a program leading to a four-year degree in education.

An agreement between the College of DuPage and Lewis University will offer area students an opportunity to earn a bachelor of arts degree in education without incurring the significant debt that often goes along with a four-year degree.

Students enrolled, planning to enroll or who have already graduated from the College of DuPage may benefit from the Enhanced 2+2 program through the agreement with Lewis University. Those who enroll at COD and who complete the program will earn a bachelor of arts degree in education from Lewis University.

The college has been actively looking for partners to work with it on its 3+1 program, which allows students to do the coursework and study for a bachelor’s degree through the college and its partners, said Glenda Gallisath, COD associate vice president, academic affairs. Students take three years of classes at the college and take the fourth year of classes on COD's campus taught by partner school teachers.  

“Due to rigors of teaching and the certifications that must be met, we realized that it wasn’t feasible to do the 3 +1 here but we could offer the program so [students] could earn the degree and move forward to get the bachelors,” she said.

The Enhanced 2+2 program allows those students who enroll to pay COD tuition rates for their first four semesters. Then, in semesters five to eight, Lewis University will provide a discounted tuition rate that is 40 percent less than the university’s published undergraduate tuition.

Students complete their general education requirements within the first two years at COD, begin studies at Lewis for semesters six and seven and finish their last semester getting practical experience student teaching at area schools. 

Lewis University noticed that it had quite a few transfer students from COD and it felt the students had a high level of academic achievement, said Joan Williams, Lewis University’s director of advising/certification officer for the college of education.

“We felt we could work with them,” Williams said. 

One of the benefits of the program for students is the fact that the transition to Lewis University is a seamless process, Gallisath said. In some instances students may have good grades academically, but have trouble navigating their way to a university. The program helps them make that transition.

“If a student is willing to go full time they can get their degree done in four years,” Gallisath said. “That is huge for us. At any community college it typically takes 4 ½- to-5 years for students.”

Another major benefit to students who may choose to enroll in the program is the cost savings.

Lewis University is a private university, but the program is set up so that students who enroll through the Enhanced 2+2 program get a 40 percent discount on their Lewis courses, Williams said.

To complete the entire degree program would cost students just under $34,000, compared with some universities, which may charge that amount per year, Gallisath said.

“We feel that is much more in tune with the needs of area families in this economy, and also taking advantage of resources in your backyard,” Gallisath said. “In contrast students can go away to school and spend considerably more.”

The agreement benefits Lewis University because it gains transfer students from the area and also is able to expand its partnerships with schools in DuPage County for student teaching partnerships, Gallisath said.

Students completing the program have the option to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from Lewis University in elementary education, special education, or a combined degree in special education/elementary education.

The agreement between the schools was announced earlier this year and the schools hope to successfully recruit students this fall and have its first class of students transitioning into the program in January 2013, Gallisath said.

“Our whole purpose for doing this was to make the bachelor’s degree more affordable and accessible and have it be a high quality degree for our students,” Gallisath said. 

While certain areas of study go through cycles, where interest either rises or falls, education will always be a field, which draws students who want to make a difference, Williams said. While it may be a challenging time for students searching for jobs in education, at Lewis University it’s placement rate is about 70 percent to 75 percent.

“At Lewis we have a philosophy of how we educate students,” Williams said. “We believe our students will be transformative educators, multicultural educators … and social justice advocates.”

For more information about the Enhanced 2+2 Education agreement, contact COD Admissions Representative Jose Alferez at 630-942-3146, alferezj@cod.edu, or Joan Williams, Lewis University director of advising/certification officer, college of education, at 815-836-5268,williajo@lewisu.edu.

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