At the beginning of a new year, many people choose to capitalize on opportunities for personal and professional growth, and Janet Knauff wants Highland County residents to know about one in particular: a fast-track to earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in counseling without having to travel to a larger city.
Knauff is the coordinator of educational outreach and online programs at Lindsey Wilson College, a Kentucky school that has partnered with Southern State Community College to offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs aimed at working people.
According to Knauff, 18 months in the program is all it takes to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in human services and counseling, although most students finish the track in 16 months, and a Master of Education degree in counseling and human development takes two years to complete after that.
Classes are held at Southern State’s Hillsboro campus Fridays from 4 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Knauff said.
“You’re in class a long time, but you come on a weekend schedule and that seems to work well for people who are already working,” she said. “It’s a real asset to the community because people don’t have to drive into the city… to get their education.”
Charlie Gorman, associate professor of human and social services and psychology at Southern State, said he obtained his undergraduate degree from Xavier University and his master’s from the University of Dayton, both of which required a lot of travel. For residents of Highland County and surrounding areas, Hillsboro is much closer to home, he said.
Gorman was instrumental in the program’s inception more than a decade ago.
“My particular generation of counselors, we either drove to Dayton, Columbus or Cincinnati, because those were the closest colleges where you could get a master’s degree in counseling… doing that for 15 months, along with paying a much higher tuition,” he said.
Knauff told The Times-Gazette that while education at Lindsey Wilson College’s main campus in Kentucky can cost up to $1,000 per hour, the Southern State program costs anywhere from $465 to $500 per hour.
Gorman said students also save money by commuting to Southern State campuses rather than living on campus at a different college.
Knauff said with ongoing widespread drug abuse in the area, there continues to be a need for mental health counselors.
“I think there’s a big need in mental health counseling, a lot of dual diagnosis with drugs and alcohol,” she said. “We all know we have an epidemic… I think there’s a real need for people to work in the field.”
Gorman added that many of the program’s more than 200 graduates have stayed in Southern Ohio, yet “the market is still not yet saturated, which speaks to the need we have in this area.”
Gorman said the program is “not just good for the students… but it really is something that is fortifying the community of professionals.”
According to Knauff, the coursework for the bachelor’s and master’s degrees includes education in social services, lifespan, human development, psychology, ethics, career education, psychopathology, theories, diagnosis, research and diversity.
“It’s all clinical,” she said.
Knauff said the undergraduate program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the master’s program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education.
For more information on the partnership, call Knauff at 937-393-3431 ext. 2925, or email her at [email protected]
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.