Central Wyoming College is one step away from becoming the first Wyoming community college to offer a four-year degree.
Following the Wyoming Community College Commission’s approval of the curriculum and program proposal, CWC needs only the OK from the state’s Higher Learning Commission to go ahead with a Bachelor of Applied Science program. The program aims to give students real-world experience and a final round of focused coursework in tribal leadership or business entrepreneurship.
“Students are going to get a ton of work experience,” Director of Marketing and Public Relations Lori Ridgway said. “Employers really value this, and they’re willing to pay them better for it.”
As opposed to traditional bachelor’s degrees, which require completion of a variety of technical science courses, Bachelors of Applied Science offer classes in math, accounting, computer science, business law and employee relations, TheClassroom.com says. Students with associate degrees or workforce experience generally enter the programs to advance in their particular field.
CWC’s proposed program would let students choose their focus in the last 12 to 15 credits. The coursework would include internships with local businesses or the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes on the Wind River Reservation.
Approval from the Higher Learning Commission requires an intensive site visit from commission representatives. A date has not been set, though CWC administrators hope it will take place in December or January.
Commission representatives will interview CWC employees in disparate departments, from marketing to advising, to ensure the college is prepared to support students in the new venture.
“We anticipate three types of students,” Ridgway said. “Some will have no prior education. Some will have prior credits and we will transfer them in. Then we’ll have other people with complete associate’s degrees.”
Those who completed an associate degree will jump straight into higher-level classes, while those just starting out will need introductory offerings. Preparing the advising department is especially important, she said.
If the Higher Learning Commission approves the program, students may start as soon as fall 2020. With over 100 students expressing interest in the degree, CWC expects classes to be popular right off the bat.
In that faction of interested students (as well as the business groups supporting the program), no one industry dominates because the proposed degree is designed to be applicable across the board and aimed at students with specific goals.
“These students would be someone who would be a talented worker who wants to move up into management,” Ridgway said.