Carolina has launched a new distance-learning initiative, UNC Core, to serve members of the military — wherever they are serving in the world.
Through self-paced and semester-based courses, the program aims to help active-duty service members, veterans and National Guard and Reserve members from North Carolina complete general education college courses from a distance on a flexible schedule.
“There are over 100,000 active-duty military in the state of North Carolina, and it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re providing higher education opportunities for the people who serve and defend our country,” said Rob Bruce, director of the Friday Center for Continuing Education, where the program is housed. “These are men and women who need accessible, flexible, innovative courses and programs. They can’t come to Chapel Hill and take our courses in person, so we take our courses, our research and our faculty to them.”
Open to all military members, UNC Core will prepare students for degree completion programs by fulfilling core requirements needed to enroll. Students can take courses in humanities and fine art; English composition; social and behavioral sciences; mathematics; natural sciences and foreign languages.
Most of the classes in the program are conducted by UNC; they also are offered through East Carolina, Elizabeth City State, N.C. Central, N.C. State and Western Carolina universities as well as UNC-Greensboro.
Courses are offered in self-paced and semester-based formats. The self-paced courses can be started at any time, and students have nine months from the start date to complete the course. Semester-based courses — following the Carolina academic calendar — are fully online and most don’t require participation at any set times of day.
After completing the core courses approved for transfer, service members can apply the credits to their chosen degree program at one of the UNC System universities.
The Friday Center’s courses proved critical for Stephanie Gaulard Henry ’08, who was just eight months away from graduating from Carolina in 2001 when she had to withdrawal from all of her classes when her reserve military police unit was called to active duty. Thanks to long-distance courses while she was stationed at Fort Bragg, Henry ultimately was able to complete her an exercise and sports science degree in 2008.
“I don’t know if I would have finished,” she said. “It’s incredibly hard to go back to school when life starts.”
Henry said the UNC Core program could be beneficial to any service member looking to continue their education.
“If they have this opportunity and they’ve had the smallest idea that they want to go to college, they should try it,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Ultimately, Bruce said, the goal will be for Carolina to also provide a degree completion program as the University continues to provide opportunities for the military community.