October 15, 2018 | ° F

Open house to highlight Brookdale, Rutgers partnership

Photo by Richard Pfeffer |

In the coming weeks, members of the Monmouth County community will learn they may not need to travel far to pursue a four-year college education.

There will be an open house on Tuesday, Feb. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Brookdale Community College campus at Freehold, where students will learn about the offerings of the Brookdale-Rutgers partnership.

Rutgers partnered with Brookdale in 1998. The model has students complete their two-year degree at the community college before applying to Rutgers, said Joe Walsh, assistant director of Off-Campus Programs at Rutgers.

"Rutgers at Brookdale wants to expand our visibility to adult and part-time students, who perhaps have some college credits, but haven't yet finished their degree and probably don't realize that Rutgers is here (in Freehold)," he said.

At the open house, members of the community can expect plenty of resources explaining the transfer process under the partnership, said Richard Pfeffer, executive dean of Brookdale Community College at Freehold.

Faculty members will discuss various majors with potential students, he said. A representative from financial aid will also be present.

"It makes all the difference in the world when you can talk to a human being," he said.

It is important for members of the community to know that Brookdale and Rutgers are sharing a building and providing education to people in the Monmouth County community, Pfeffer said.

Many people are unaware that Rutgers hosts classes off of their main campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden, he said.

"We thought this would be a really good chance to get the word out on a broader level," he said.

The open house aims to reach potential college students in Monmouth County, northern Ocean County and southern Middlesex County areas, Walsh said.

The types of student the partnership has attracted has evolved over time, along with the different majors offered, Walsh said.

"The initial student target was the classic, nontraditional student ... the location-bound student, the working adult who, after a 9-to-5 job or family obligations, (for them) to get up and have to drive to New Brunswick was impossible," he said.

Brookdale-Rutgers has noticed a change in the age and gender demographics of students who participate in the partnership, as well as an increase in full-time students.

The partnership benefits traditional students, in addition to nontraditional students, who are looking to save money, Pfeffer said.

"(Brookdale) has changed from the historic tradition of a community college, (which was) more in vocational fields back in the (1950s and 1960s), to more of a transfer opportunity now, because students (are) just very conscious of the finances. It makes sense to them," Pfeffer said.

Shaina Dente, a Rutgers alumna, attended Rutgers at Brookdale's Freehold campus after completing an associate's degree at Brookdale Community College.

The program allowed Dente to continue her education and remain close to home in a small learning community with modest class sizes.

"The design is for students to complete their entire degree here without having to travel, and it has been proven to be pretty successful," Walsh said.

Since the commute to any of the Rutgers campuses can be harsh for students and on-campus living is expensive, Walsh said participating in the partnership is beneficial for many students.

Students who choose to partake in partnership have access to everything that a Rutgers student who lives on campus does, he said. This includes all online resources and on-campus resources, provided the student is willing to travel.

"It's a chance to get an associate's degree from Brookdale and a bachelor's degree from Rutgers without ever leaving Monmouth County," he said. "It's a great opportunity, simple as that."

Abigail Lyon

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