Sonia Vance and Wendy Hipps work full time. Both needed more education to achieve their life and career goals, and both used to think that earning a degree would take too many years to achieve.
Then Vance and Hipps discovered AHEAD—the Accelerated Higher Education Associate’s Degree program—offered through Pellissippi State Community College. AHEAD allows students to earn a two-year associate’s degree in only 16 months.
Sonia Vance has been with Target for 10 years and works as a guest service team leader. Before learning about AHEAD, she says, she assumed that obtaining a higher education degree meant sacrificing more years in school than she could devote.
“It would have taken me four or five years to get a degree if it weren’t for AHEAD,” she said. Vance was compelled to pursue a higher degree because she was interested in a human resources career.
Wendy Hipps, who has worked at DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc., for the past 18 years, needed an associate’s degree to advance with her company.
AHEAD fit the bill for both employees. The program was specifically designed with working adults like Vance and Hipps in mind.
AHEAD students earn an Associate of Applied Science degree with a major in Business Administration and a concentration in Management. For students interested in continuing on for a four-year degree, Pellissippi State has agreements with a number of colleges and universities that allow graduates to transfer directly into a bachelor’s degree program.
Students in the AHEAD program supplement their in-class experience with online instruction. Participants are able to combine the flexibility of independent study with the support of regular personal contact with professors and fellow students.
AHEAD is a “cohort” program, which means that students stay with the same peers throughout the 16 months. Vance, especially, liked the structure.
“I preferred the small-group setting,” she said. “The connections we all made were fantastic. Everyone had a different career, different background and personality. That’s certainly very real-world. All of us were ‘nontraditional’ students, and a lot of us still stay in touch.”
Vance graduated from Pellissippi State in May. She plans to enter Tusculum College in August to pursue a bachelor’s degree in organizational management with a concentration in human resource management. Hipps completed the program in December and looks forward to “getting AHEAD” with DENSO.
The next AHEAD cohort begins on Aug. 31 and concludes Dec. 15, 2011. Students may apply until Aug. 19. Space is limited, so early enrollment is encouraged.
For additional information, visit www.pstcc.edu/ahead or call (865) 694-6400.