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January 19, 2014

SNHU emerging as online education leader

President expects to top 35,000 students this year

(Continued)

“This is not your typical adjunct faculty member role,” he said. “We expect our faculty to go above and beyond to support our students, without sacrificing academic quality.”

Faculty are expected to identify struggling students and be aggressive in helping them succeed, he said.

Adjuncts are subjected to pre-hire screenings, three weeks of extensive training, formal evaluations, then receive additional training and support once they start, Fowler said.

They are experienced, have advanced degrees and some have previously worked at top universities or in positions such as U.S. attorney, he said.

“We expect them to be mentors as much as they are teachers,” he said.

McCutcheon and Federico both brought teaching experience when they signed on at SNHU.

The university continues to expand full-time faculty. LeBlanc said 25 were added last year, with the university adding another 25 this year.

The quality of students is the same, whether online or in the classroom, McCutcheon said.

“You have some who are brilliant, witty, smart,” he said. “There are others you need to give more help.”

Federico agrees.

“There are many students who excel,” he said. “Some you have to help around a bit.”

SNHU points to graduation rate

Graduation rate for SNHU’s online programs is about 50 percent. LeBlanc said that’s among the best for online programs.

“At many community colleges, the graduation rate is in the single digits,” he said. “Twenty percent would be high.”

There’s a reason.

“Life gets in the way,” he said.

Students are dealing with family, illness, job changes. A student gets a promotion at work and decides he doesn’t need to continue studies, LeBlanc said.

Gray is one example.

“I realized I may have jumped the gun a little on starting school so soon after moving to Germany,” Gray said. “I was a little uncertain about what I would really want to do with my degree, so I decided to put it on hold for a while so I could figure out what I wanted before facing more student loans.”

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