DAL celebrates 25th anniversary

by Shara Tibken

Len Lieser has worked a lot of jobs during his life: He’s been in the military, sold health and life insurance, worked as a truck driver and done welding and grinding.

After being injured on the job, Lieser learned he’d have to change his entire life.

“I decided that when I got the chance, I would come back to school,” the non-traditional senior said. “I decided to take the entrance exams and see what I could do. I didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do.”

Lieser is one of many adults who decide to further their education by going to college – and Simpson College’s Division of Adult Learning has been helping people do this for 25 years.

“One of the first specific commitments of Simpson’s mission statement is to create an innovative learning process for students of all ages,” said Walter Pearson, associate academic dean and director of the Division of Adult Learning. “The idea was to serve students who live in Des Moines who are working adults with a variety of high-quality degree programs.”

The Division of Adult Learning started when some Simpson professors offered night classes to police officers in the Des Moines Academy so they could complete a college degree.

“The college began to say that we should expand this and start to serve adult students generally,” Pearson said.

Pearson said there are four reasons why adult students like Simpson: convenience, quality, flexibility and affordability.

“For a part-time student attending Simpson, it’s very affordable,” Pearson said. “It’s actually less expensive for a student to do that than go to the University of Iowa or Iowa State.”

DAL doesn’t offer all the degrees that conventional, full-time students are able to complete. DAL does offer majors in business, computer science, criminal justice, education, English and the three majors in communications studies.

Because of this, Lieser now takes classes full-time on the Indianola campus to earn his degree to teach history.

Approximately 800 adults enroll in DAL classes each year and enrollment has remained steady for the last decade, Pearson said.

He added that the average adult student is 33 years old and takes six credits each term, but adults aren’t the only people DAL benefits.

DAL also helps other unconventional students complete their college educations.

“I was in DAL classes last year,” said senior Melissa Leary. “I had always been in college, but I just transferred a lot.”

Simpson’s DAL is proud of its ability to help adult students with whatever they need.

“The thing that we’ve done a really good job at is making sure students are satisfied,” Pearson said. “I think that we really work hard to make sure that we serve the adult students.”