More Than Just a Number

Anderson oversees operations of adult degree programs in eight states and online. She’s been with Northwood for over 20 years, including her first 10 in Lansing, where she worked at the Program Center and helped to expand the university’s partnership with Lansing Community College. Northwood students who live in the Lansing area can enroll in the standard undergraduate program or what’s called the 3 + 1 program through LCC, where they take three years of their four-year degree at LCC’s tuition rate. Then for the final year, they can continue at the University Center in Lansing through Northwood, or head to Midland for those students looking for a residential experience to complete their education.

Anderson says that typically students who are in the Lansing Center are adult learners. “They’re the type of students who are working full time or part time and going to school part time. Maybe they’re married or have kids. Maybe they started school 10 years ago and stopped and came back.” To accommodate their schedules, Northwood offers the majority of courses in the evenings, on weekends and online. Its Lansing program offers a bachelor’s degree in business administration, as well as a master’s in business administration. Majors in the undergraduate program include management and marketing major, as well as computer information management.

Northwood has over 150 students in their Lansing center at the undergraduate level, and about 75 graduate students. Its MBA program is a part-time program, geared toward working adults going to school one night a week. Anderson says that they are seeing “a number of people who are in career transition. On the flip side, we’re also seeing students in career transition who thought they would go full time and they’re going part time because business is picking up.”

Lansing staff consists of 3.5 employees. Their job? On a day-to-day basis, they “support, counsel and advise students from admissions all the way to graduation. They all have students that they work with on financial aid [as well as] help develop their curriculum,” says

She says that in fall 2011, Northwood offers over 30 sections, taught by a combination of full-time and part-time faculty. The typical class size is about 12-15 students. “We never want to have more than 25 in our undergraduate program,” she adds. “We want people to be able to engage, have discussion and interact. Our classes are highly interactive. We want our students to bring their practical experience in and learn from each other as well as from the professor.

“All of our courses have an online component,” she says. “[Students] submit their assignments that way between class meetings. We think that it’s really important that our graduates understand how to use technology going forward. The skills they develop doing things in the classroom help them in their career.”

Northwood has scholarships at the graduate level and has transfer scholarships for the residential students who are going to come to Midland. They also have reduced tuition for their adult program. And, they have discounted tuition for eligible veterans and their families.

From a philosophical standpoint, Anderson says that Northwood “believes in free enterprise. We believe that individuals can and do make a difference in the world in which they live and work. We try to have our graduates leave with a broad understanding of the industry that they want to work in.” She says they use the term “intrepreneur” to describe a Northwood graduate who, although working in a corporation, acts like he or she is an entrepreneur in that business.

Alumni with good things to say about their experience abound. As Northwood’s Lansing Program Center manager, Julie Hanna has assisted hundreds of people to reach their goal of becoming college graduates.

“I had such a great time as an adult student,” she says. “I decided [as a career change] that I wanted to work in adult education. Northwood University gave me the opportunity, and I like to think it has been a win-win.”


From graduate Michael Fenning: “The best part of my experience at Northwood University was that I received personal attention and was not just a number. The staff was personally invested in my education and that meant a great deal to me.”

Finally, from Ricardo Acosta: “I work, organize, and lead, not only in business but personally as well. Northwood’s adult degree program provided me with the flexibility to succeed in my educational goals.”

Anderson says that Northwood is expanding in Lansing, including moving their offices from Eastwood Towne Center to office space on Abbot Road in order to better support students from the East Lansing and Okemos area. “We hope to be there later this fall,” she says. “We’ve been in the Lansing market for a long time, and over the last five years we’ve continued to experience growth. We are committed to the Lansing market and the partnerships we have there.”

Author: Jack Schaberg
Photography: Terri Shaver

Northwood University

Rhonda Anderson, Associate Dean of the Adult Degree

210 W. Shiawassee St.




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