Jun. 27, 2017
LA MIRADA, CALIF. — Adult degree learning is becoming increasingly popular among the next generation and baby boomers that never received an education. Biola University offers a unique adult degree program. The program is transformational through not simply offering an education, but by integrating biblical foundations into every course. Students graduate spiritually transformed and with a degree.
Bruce Keith, 52, who graduated from BOLD this past May is an example of this transformation. Keith, who is a recovering alcoholic, became sober seven years ago. He got married and God started working in his life with his sobriety.
“After I got married, I always had regrets I hadn’t achieved an education,” said Keith. “I didn’t even have a high school diploma.”
After hearing a BOLD graduate’s testimony at church one day, he felt God leading him to the program. He earned his GED and soon after was accepted into the BOLD program. Keith is now planning to attend graduate school and is talking about beginning a doctorate degree.
“It just amazes me, the change in my life. I was surviving and now I’m living,” said Keith.
Biola’s adult degree completion program, BOLD, was founded in 1991 and designed to be an opportunity for ‘non-traditional’ students to earn a degree in an accelerated manner. Since then, BOLD has opened six additional education centers to make the Biola experience more convenient and accessible to adult students desiring to complete a degree from a national Christian university.
The BOLD program caters to the ‘non-traditional’ student, such as an adult who works full time and is married, rather than a student who recently graduated from high school.
“A lot of students are trying to finish something they started. It’s just the incomplete piece of their life. God is leading them to prepare for what’s next and they feel like a piece of that is completing their education,” said Sara Mouw, director of BOLD program and education centers.
A student must have at least three years work experience after high school to be a potential BOLD student. When BOLD began, most enrolled students were in their forties. Although, the general population of students has become younger, there is still the occasional exception, such as Geraldine Telford who graduated in May of 2007 at age 72.
BOLD is a unique program because of the biblical integration, which is rare for degree completion programs.
“The students, faculty and staff are all Christian so that creates a supportive environment for those who are serious about a Christian education and desire to complete their degree with faculty and students who share their same values. This is a unique and supportive environment especially for those who are not sure they can return to college and finish their degree,” said Mouw
The program is designed for students to finish in 18-24 months and they must have 27 units of general education completed prior to taking Bible courses and 50 units to be accepted into a major.
The program correlates well with Biola’s value of transformation. Most students who enter the program don’t have confidence in being able to finish a degree.
“An area of a person’s life that they can feel is a failure is transformed into a success,” said Mouw. “I see the transformation in their lives preparing them for how God is preparing them next to impact the world.”
Many graduates become life long learners with the restored confidence of their education and faith.
Lori Gardea, 48, another graduate, had always wanted to earn her baccalaureate degree, but never had the time to do so. After completing a two-year “banking school” program, she was confident she could begin an adult degree program.
“I decided to finally finish what I had started about 30 years before and began searching for a university,” said Gardea. “I immediately could sense that the [Biola] staff truly cared about the students.”
Gardea is now exploring various MBA or M.S. programs in banking and finance.
BOLD is looking forward and hopes to move to a hybrid model of online and in-class courses to give students even more flexibility. Most classes are offered in the evening or on Saturdays. Currently, Biola offers two baccalaureate degrees through the BOLD program, one in organizational leadership and one in psychology.
The six education centers are located in La Mirada, Chino, Inglewood, Orange County, San Diego County and Thousand Oaks.
Biola University is a private Christian university located in Southern California on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties in the city of La Mirada. For over 100 years, Biola has remained committed to its biblical foundation, integrating biblical principles with every academic program. U.S. News & World Report recognizes Biola as a “National University,” which is considered the “major leagues” of higher education. In addition to its focus on intentional spiritual development and career preparation, Biola offers a unique academic environment where all faculty, staff and students are professing Christians. With over 145 academic programs in seven schools, Biola offers degrees ranging from B.A. to Ph.D. For more information, visit www.biola.edu or call (562) 777 – 4061.
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