By Megan Palumbo & Kaley Chamberlain – Sports Editor & 1851 Staff
Lasell understands the cost of a college education is on the rise, which is why faculty members and President Michael Alexander have been working together to find smarter alternatives to financing an education. This past fall was the first time Lasell offered the Sophomore Alternative Semester (SAS) for incoming sophomores. Seven students were enrolled in the program, five of whom live in-state and two of whom live out of state.
The SAS program offers full-time online coursework for students who want to stay at home and work while still pursuing a higher education. SAS requires that every participant must have guaranteed off-campus housing, finished their first year with a cumulative G.P.A. of 2.0, work 16-20 hours a week at a part-time job while enrolled in at least 12 credits.
“There’s a program run by President [Michael Alexander] called the Low Cost Alternative Study Group. It’s faculty and staff, and they’re looking at ways they can reduce tuition costs for students,” said Gillian Stanley, Director of Graduate Student Services. “I ended up running the group because I work in the graduate program, so I’m familiar with the hybrid, 100 percent online courses.”
Students pay $400 per credit, however they do not qualify for financial aid. Outside aid can be applied, and students will be reinstated with financial aid from Lasell when they come back to campus for the spring semester. Students can save between $5,050 and $8,675 by completing the SAS.
“We’re approaching first year students, who are thinking about what they’re enrolling in for the fall,” said Stanley. SAS is built into the meetings with first year advisors now so students will hear more about it come February when registration for the fall starts.
Types of courses students can register for include BUSS224, MATH208, SCI107, MDSC203, and IDS215X. The last course is a Professional Development Seminar that is a required keystone to the SAS program.
Sarah Burrows, Director of Internship Programs and Assistant Communication Professor, taught this course and found students were “engaging and enthusiastic” as well as “thinking about their part-time jobs differently.”
“In some ways I think it was good because it reinforced their appreciation for the college experience and on campus experience because they had a taste of just taking classes,” said Burrows.
There was a lot of positive feedback from the students who participated in SAS.
One of the seven sophomores, Armani Turner said, “I would definitely recommend this program to other students. Everything I learned I applied to my job and life. I would advise students to stay on top of their work and check their classes for assignments regularly to avoid missing deadlines.”
Turner did the SAS to save money so she could study abroad her junior year. She said there were “sacrifices being made,” but it was worth it in the end.
Kimberly Andrews, another participant said, “The discounted tuition was a pretty big motivator for me to do SAS. My dad was a big fan of that too.” Andrews also discovered she liked learning through discussions rather than book material or presentations. “This program is really great as long as you’re really ready to take on a really different style of learning and doing school,” said Andrews.
Besides adjusting to a new learning environment and learning self-management skills, students enjoyed the financial gain while continuing their education at Lasell.
“SAS is an overall attractive program. The Low Cost Alternative Study Group is still finding ways for students to feel connected to the Lasell community, so when they return it feels as if they’d never left,” said Stanley.