Wilkes Pocono branch offers education at convenient location

Brittany Battista, Advertising Manager

The Wilkes University Pocono Education Center will offer a master of science degree in engineering management, a master of business administration degree, and an accelerated bachelor of business administration program for those looking to complete their degree.
The new storefront SA facility is at the Shoppes at Crossroads at the Bartonsville exit of Interstate 80. The undergraduate program being offered also features hybrid learning.
One half is done physically in the classroom and the other is done online. Costs for programs vary but the tuition is “competitive” and financial aid is available for those who qualify.
Dr. Vernon B. Harper, associate provost, says that the 2,800 square foot space includes two classrooms. Harper, said the facility will open mid-January.

“We felt Wilkes could serve students in that area,” Harper said. “In any postsecondary institution its primary mission is to serve the needs of students as far as their education goes and to be able for them to take what they learned and create prosperity in their communities.”

“We feel this is an ideal place to expand our offerings, based on impressive population growth and numbers of people eager to continue their education.” Wilkes University President Tim Gilmore commented, “Wilkes is ready to serve Monroe County and surrounding areas.”

The project began when Wilkes discovered a high demand after leasing space out of Pocono High School to begin to serve the area.

“Wilkes had been offering programs out of Pocono High School for some time which is referred to as “on-site instruction,” Harper said. “We provide instruction to a population of students at their work place. So at this location we were offering instruction to teachers in the school district. Because of the success of that venture, we realized that there was a little more demand in their area especially for business programming.”

He also said additional programming will be offered in future semesters.
Out market research demonstrated that students in that region were under served as far as their options. Research showed that students would have a better opportunity to matriculate if they had this location that was closer to their work and home which also had more convenient hours.

“We are working with three other departments on campus that are interested in programming there for all of next year,” Harper noted. “We expect that the number of programs offered at its peak will be five to six. We should hit our peak in about two to two and a half years.”

Members of departments who are not currently involved in the Poconos including Dr. Mark Stine, associate professor and chair of Communication Studies; Dr. Linda Winkler, the dean of College Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; and Dr. Laurence Kuhar, chair of the English Department, all did not wish to comment on the subject.

The Pocono site will allow adults to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees at a convenient location in the center of Monroe County. The site and the programs offered were developed to meet the unique needs of adult learners. Therefore, the classes are scheduled in evenings and on weekends.

Dr. Justin Matus, associate professor of the Sidhu School of Business, is one professor who will be teaching at the new location.

“In my mind, it’s important to make a few distinctions about adult learners. Generally speaking, my working definition of an adult learner is someone who has had a significant break between high school and resuming higher education.”

Matus said adult learners have different needs and may not have the same issues challenges than an average undergraduate student. Adult learners tend to come into the class with much more anxiety. It is probable that they work full time as well as juggling family life which causes this heightened feeling of anxiety.

It’s the job of the instructor to keep in mind these differences in order to create a comfortable learning environment for everyone.

“Adult learners like very precise expectations and clearly defined requirements,” Matus said. “They are also very task oriented.” Matus also noted that adult learners are very willing and eager to participate. “It can be the total opposite of undergraduate where sometimes you have to pull them out of their seat to have anything other than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.”

“Wilkes is dedicated to the adult market. We know that working adults demand convenient and flexible programs that will improve their career prospects and quality of life,” said Michael Speziale, dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies. “We are excited to offer these programs in the Poconos.”

Options for students in that area are limited to East Stroudsburg University and Northampton Community College. ESU does not have a master’s program. Therefore, this new location is even more beneficial to prospective students in Monroe County.

Sophomore communications and political science major, Ian Foley, says that the new storefront location is in a business area and prospective students can further their education without driving 20 minutes to ESU. A Pocono native, Foley attended East Stroudsburg Senior High School where he says that most of his peers attended ESU.

“It doesn’t have the same feeling as our Wilkes campus since it’s not really a campus environment,” Foley said. “As I am told it has an office, some class rooms and a conference room. The feel of the location is more for those transit adult learners and part time college students than for us.”

“Walking in you’re going to hit a blue wall and behind that is going to be a yellow space and then a different shade of blue behind that,” Harper said. “It plays nicely and uses the Wilkes color palate.”

Harper said that there are students who are currently enrolled in classes in the Pocono’s in an alternate location.

“Usually when you open an additional location to make sure you have enrollment for the location you start out at a temporary site,” Harper said. “There are two programs currently enrolled in a temporary location at The Chateau Resort and Conference Center Road in Tannersville.”

The two programs current students are taking are the master of business administration degree and the accelerated bachelor of business administration degree.