Jen Wood, staff assistant II, spends her time at work helping the Career and Technical Education division at the Osceola Campus with a variety of tasks, ranging from handling its budget to ordering books and drafting contracts for part-time faculty, among others.
A mother of two boys, one of whom has special needs, Jen is able to balance work and home life all while pursuing her Bachelor of Applied Science in business and organizational leadership (BASBOL) at Valencia College. And it’s all at almost no cost to her. That’s because Jen is taking advantage of Employee Development Funds (EDF), part of Valencia College’s Total Rewards package. EDF offers full-time employees the opportunity to take up to 18 credit hours per fiscal year toward a degree or certificate at no cost. The waiver does not cover additional fees such as distance learning, lab or late registration.
“I made some mistakes in the past, so I had used up a lot of my financial aid by the time I finished my A.S. [Associate in Science] degree,” said Jen who, prior to working at Valencia, struggled to complete her education. “Once I got my full-time position, I was able to use my EDF funds.”
Jen said she pursued BASBOL, in part because she was able to remain at the same institution, which made for a smoother transition. The costs, she said, as well as the program’s flexibility and the fact Valencia accepted many of her previous credits, were other reasons for choosing it.
“It’s definitely worth it,” Jen said of her decision. “All this is going to do is provide more opportunities in the future … I know the A.S. opened the door to my first part-time job here, and I know there are jobs I could have access to if I complete the BASBOL program.”
Launched in 2018, the BASBOL program prepares students for supervisory and management roles, covering multiple areas of business, from finance to accounting to human resources and leadership. Most of the courses in its curriculum can be completed online (although, since COVID, all its courses are now offered online). In addition, BASBOL offers accelerated classes for students interested in faster completion. Many of the books required by the program can also be accessed via open sources online at no cost to students. And, students earn some technical certificates automatically prior to earning the degree if they take certain courses.
Students must have either an Associate in Arts or an Associate in Science degree from a regionally accredited institution or 60 college credits to be accepted in the program. BASBOL also offers a flexible math pathway and students can be admitted without pre-requisites.
Since its inception two years ago, BASBOL has seen significant growth in enrollment. In all, 108 Valencia College employees have enrolled in the BASBOL degree since its start.
James McDonald, executive director, BASBOL, said the degree is “ideal for our employees because it focuses on applied management and leadership skills. No matter what role they have at the College, management and leadership skills are always in demand, and transferable to different occupations as well. In addition, the courses are all offered online, the class sizes are small, the faculty teaching in the program are highly experienced leaders in their respective fields, the instructional material is free, and the tuition if very low.”
James added that the program is also valuable for employers since it provides an academic platform to help them develop or hire supervisors and managers to support their organizations. So, far, it has proven so popular, capacity was increased by 32 percent in fall 2020 to accommodate demand. Specializations or tracks may be developed in the future to reflect industry needs. A set of core classes all majors would have to take regardless of the track they choose is also in the works, he said. However, this last change would not affect current students.