For a growing number of people, the home computer is also a school.

"By 2005, one of every three people in higher education will get their schooling from a distance," according to Richard Klawiter, an instructor at the University of Wis

For a growing number of people, the home computer is also a school.

"By 2005, one of every three people in higher education will get their schooling from a distance," according to Richard Klawiter, an instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

He told the Marshfield Kiwanis Club Wednesday about the distance learning program at UW-Platteville, which offers a complete undergraduate degree program in business. Students can use the program to receive a bachelor of science degree in business administration.

"The students get the instruction from their home, work or library, and they’ll send in their homework by fax, e-mail or snail mail," Klawiter said.

The Platteville program started in 1979, and currently serves about 550 students who live in all parts of Wisconsin.

"There are still a lot of people who are disenfranchised from higher education," Klawiter said. "They include salespeople and caretakers of the very young and the elderly. Their lives are very hectic and they find very little free time in their lives. They may live across the street from UW-Oshkosh, but they can’t go there for the reasons I just mentioned."

The average age of Platteville’s distance learning students is 37, he said. Often, they’re high school graduates who may have taken a semester or two of college, dropped out or worked in a job for 20 years only to return to school in order to nail a promotion or higher pay.

"These programs allow them to get a complete degree, and move up in their organizations or in other ones," he said.

Face-to-face contact with a professor is better, Klawiter admitted. But he said the distance learning program is much more flexible.

"You can enroll at any time of the year, and can take as long as 12 months to complete a course. You can also take your exam here in Marshfield."

Klawiter cautioned that distance learning students must be unusually motivated to succeed, because there are no teachers around to remind them to finish their homework or study for tests. Students must have support from their families, friends and employers.

"Some people can’t psych themselves up," he said.

But he maintains that the program will become a success for the students seeking the degree.

For more information about the program, contact Klawiter at 315 Pioneer Tower, 1 University Plaza, Platteville, Wis. 53818-3099, e-mail at klawiter@uwplatt.edu or call (800) 362-5460.

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