Contemporary college students are looking for convenient and affordable ways to learn. Designed to accommodate lifelong education through in-person, virtual and distance platforms, Southeast Community College maintains learning centers in six locations across a 15-county southeastern Nebraska region — Falls City, Hebron, Nebraska City, Plattsmouth, Wahoo and York, each located so that students never need to drive more than 35 miles to access their classes.
“The learning centers serve a purpose within their communities by allowing students access to education at any age to further their lifelong career and goals,” said Cinda Konken, Southeast Community College’s dean of extended learning.
The learning centers were established as part of SCC’s 2015-2019 Strategic Plan. After the learning centers were officially established, they opened one at a time across a span of several years, with varying building sizes and class offerings tailored to each individual location. For example, the Falls City Learning Center features a health simulation lab and welding lab to help address a shortage of workers in that community, while the Nebraska City location features a dedicated construction lab.
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“It all goes back to our mission statement, which is to empower and transform the diverse learners and communities throughout southeast Nebraska through accessible lifelong learning opportunities,” said Konken. “We offer dynamic and responsive pathways that include career and technical, academic transfer and continuing education programs that contribute to personal, community and workforce development within the learning center locations.”
The Learning Centers each have their own Advisory Committees which meet once a year and discuss ongoing needs in each community to determine the most suitable classes to be provided at each center, looking closely at local business and industry needs.
“We offer classes for any individual from youth to adults, everything from high school dual-credit and college-credit classes to summer youth classes, leisure learning and workforce development opportunities,” Konken explained. “When you think about our mission, the learning centers are a true representation because they offer lifelong learning to anyone regardless of age.”
Rates and fees for the learning center classes are the same as those on an SCC campus, allowing students access to many of the same programs closer to home.
“Each learning center is connected to a campus to access college services such as admissions, registration, tutoring, and career advising,” said Konken. “The centers can also offer testing and proctoring services. There are financial aid options, including GAP Assistance. The Southeast Nebraska Community Action (SENCA) also provides some financial assistance for qualifying students for short-term skills-enhancing training and classes.”
Although the majority of students utilize the SCC learning centers for non-credit classes and continuing education, some are able to fully earn their degree from these locations without ever needing to set foot on a campus.
“December 2021 was the first time two students were able to graduate from SCC exclusively through the learning centers,” Konken said. “As non-traditional-age students, they were a bit intimidated about going back to school. With the help of the learning centers, they were able to stay within their own communities, save money on their transportation costs and enjoy flexible scheduling.
Through three main campuses and six learning centers, Southeast Community College offers nearly 60 career/technical and transfer programs and awards associate degrees, diplomas and certificates, as well as continuing education program options. For more information, visit southeast.edu.