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SFU NOW, degree completion program for working adults, draws striking numbers


Reza Nazarinia, a 2012 SFU NOW graduate, stands with his wife, Shima, at SFU's Convocation in June 2012.
Submitted photo.
September 01, 2012
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By Amy Robertson

A degree completion program for working adults at Simon Fraser University has drawn impressive numbers this fall.

Over 900 people submitted Fall 2012 applications to SFU NOW: Nights or Weekends, which allows adults working at least 30 hours per week to take university courses in the evenings and on weekends.

The increase represents growth of 565 percent since the program launched four years ago, suggesting that the program meets a steadily growing need in Metro Vancouver.

“Many working adults would like to continue a degree that they had started earlier or maybe come to university for the first time, but they have trouble completing their degrees, or even just attending classes, when most classes are scheduled between 9 and 5 from Monday to Friday,” said Dr. Yvonne Tabin, Simon Fraser University’s Associate Dean of Lifelong Learning, the unit that operates SFU NOW.

“Many of our students comment that they could not attend school if they were not working. The success of the program is really measured in the personal response of those students. It’s clear that we’re hitting a chord and serving the community by offering something that is really missing from the marketplace.”

Reza Nazarinia, a Vancouver sales manager, was one of the first SFU NOW students to graduate. He received his BA in June 2012.

"I found SFU NOW very versatile and flexible," Nazarinia said. He appreciated that classes were available on Friday evenings—even Saturday mornings.

Taking four courses per semester while balancing a full-time job and his family, he graduated in only two years. He admits it was difficult sometimes—but his dream kept him going.

“You have to have a goal,” he said. “You’ve got to know why you’re doing something.”

Students this fall can choose from 33 courses in four majors and seven minors, including communications, criminology, political science, international studies, and sociology. Classes take place in downtown Vancouver and Surrey.

The application deadline for the May 2013 term is January 31, and prospective students can attend a free info session on October 25.