With projections of a sharp rise in the number of adults returning to college, Queens’ Hayworth College is poised to take advantage with its central location, unique program design and plans to bolster peer support for students.
Hayworth College has been the forefront of adult education in the greater Charlotte area for a little over a decade, allowing students of all ages to embark on the college experience.
“Hayworth saw an increase in enrollment back in 2008 and enrollment is up this fall,” says Hayworth Dean Krista Tillman. According to a 2009 U.S Department of Education study, more growth is on the way. It projected that the 4.6 percent of adults ranging from the ages of 25-31 then enrolled in an adult program would increase to 21 percent by the year 2020.
Tillman was with BellSouth Corp. for 28 years, serving as head of North Carolina operations for the last seven years. After communications conglomerate AT&T purchased BellSouth, Tillman was named Hayworth dean in 2008.
Her business savvy and involvement in education through volunteer work prepared her for the job. “With my background in business, I knew it was important to focus on customer service,” she says. “Our customers in this case were Hayworth students.”
When asked what sets Hayworth apart from other adult learning programs, she cites the city, the location and the program itself. Charlotte draws a diverse student body and Queens’ location is convenient for Hayworth students. The program offers smaller class sizes, a more intimate connection to the programs of study and a one-on-one approach between faculty and students.
The program provides opportunities for both those seeking to finish an interrupted college degree and those seeking to further their education. “Not all Hayworth students are here to complete a degree because they never finished,” Dean Tillman says.
With the recent boost in enrollment, Dean Tillman continues to search for ways to help Hayworth maintain its competitive edge. She is currently researching a cohort-based program that allows Hayworth students to go through the degree program with other peers with similar majors. “Adult learners need more peer support,” she says.
She also understands the need to blend traditional undergraduate students with Hayworth students, but says that can be difficult. “Integrating TUG and Hayworth students isn’t always productive. Traditional undergraduates do not have the same experiences as a Hayworth student. Some professors have told me it makes for good discussions in the classroom and others have said that it makes for a difficult dichotomy.”
Still, Dean Tillman believes Hayworth is an integral part of Queens. “Hayworth used to be evening only with its own set of majors and degree program,” she says. “However, we reorganized the university so it would all be a part of the Queens community. We have the Hayworth house, which is available to all Hayworth students to really make them feel like this is their home away from home.”