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Published: Tuesday, 9/17/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

The Flexible Classroom: Educational partnerships, delivery methods help Siena Heights keep costs down for students

Siena Heights University not only attempts to make higher education more affordable for its current students, it also is tries to help its graduates maximize the return on their investment.

SHU was recently cited in three national affordability and return-on-investment studies focusing on colleges and universities:

• Siena Heights was only one of five private institutions included in The College Database’s list of colleges and universities in Michigan that offer the best financial return on investment. The public and private institutions on the list were included because they have annual tuition rates near or less than $20,000, and new graduates who earn close to $40,000 or more per year, on average. SHU students enter the workforce earning an estimated $39,600 per year after graduation, ranking it among the most financially effective of all Michigan’s post-secondary schools.

• According to Affordable Colleges Online, Siena Heights was ranked 24th among its top 36 “Most Affordable Roman Catholic Colleges with High Starting Salaries for Graduates.” Siena Heights was one of only two institutions in Michigan to make the national Catholic rankings.

• ACO also ranked Siena Heights in the top 30 “Highest Return on Investment” colleges and universities in Michigan. According to the ACO research, institutions on this Michigan “Highest Return on Investment” list have graduates who earn more over their lifetimes, on average, than graduates from other Michigan institutions.

Siena Heights enrolls about 2,400 undergraduate students and 350 graduate students across all its campuses, which include the Adrian (main), Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Jackson, Lansing, Monroe, and Southfield in Michigan and an online program. SHU has had adult degree completion programs for nearly 40 years. Many of its transfer students are able to transfer in three years of college credit from the community college, allowing them to complete their bachelor’s degree with one additional year of college course work.

SHU’s unique Bachelor of Applied Science degree allows students without traditional transfer options for degree completion an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree without repeating courses within their major. The BAS degree works on the inverted major concept, acknowledging the work the student has already completed within their Associate of Applied Science degree. Community colleges are the leaders in offering AAS degrees in technical and occupational areas. SHU has helped students in these degree fields obtain a relevant degree that will help them advance in their chosen careers.

In April 2013, SHU representatives testified at a field hearing in Monroe hosted by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on higher education and workforce development. At that hearing, SHU officials said that by accepting such a high number of transfer credits, Siena Heights often saves students thousands of dollars and increases the number of courses students take at the community college by encouraging the student to return to the community college to complete more course work.

Siena Heights also often brings its classes to the students, saving time and often travel costs. In the Monroe community, a recent example of this includes a RN to BSN degree completion program implemented in January 2013 at Mercy Memorial Hospital. The cohort was offered through Mercy Memorial after SHU was approached by hospital administration regarding an on-site degree completion option for their employees. SHU has had a similar cohort program at the Cook Energy Center in Bridgman, Mich., and a number of cohorts who have completed their master’s degree in Health Care Leadership onsite at the St. John Hospital System in several locations in southeastern Michigan.

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