Education: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Learning is a lifelong process and an education is, as they say, “a gift that none can take away.” We are all learning. Whether through apprenticeships, the “school of hard knocks,” or classroom instruction, education builds our character and shapes who we become.

Saline County has always been progressive in providing access to higher education, and opportunities for continuing education. In 1975, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (now UA Little Rock) began offering evening classes at Benton High School.

Once Benton Middle School moved to its new location, a local committee approached UALR about moving those classes from the high school to the empty building on River Street, and offering an Associate’s Degree in General Studies. After some remodeling, UA Little Rock Benton Center opened in August of 1995, and roughly two years ago officially became the UA Little Rock Benton Campus.

Over the years, improvements and expansion have continued through the addition of carpeting in classrooms and hallways, new furniture, two state-of-the art teaching labs, one state-of-the-art student lab, a biology wet lab, an earth science lab, a student common area and two student study areas.

Benton Campus offers many conveniences to Saline County residents desiring to pursue higher education, most notably its location. The original Little Rock campus is approximately 25 miles from the city of Benton, and even further from outlying areas such as Haskell and Glen Rose.

If a student commutes to Little Rock three days per week for classes, that comes to about 150 miles weekly. “I chose the Benton Campus due to its location. I work and live in Benton, so the Benton Campus has made it very convenient for me to obtain my education,” says Dillon Massey, a UA Little Rock scholarship recipient.

An intimate campus environment means smaller class sizes and more one-on-one attention from the instructors.  This draws both traditional students attending college right after high school, and non-traditional students who have waited a year or more to begin their college education.

According to Student Ambassador Jay Whipple, his success reflects the power of that close faculty-student interaction. “Because of our professional relationship, the staff and faculty at the UA Little Rock Benton campus helped me overcome challenges and obstacles, and I will graduate next year,” says Jay.

The staff Jay refers to includes Angela Paladino-Fairly, Benton’s Academic Advisor and Non-Credit Program Manager; Robin Dean, Financial Aid Representative and Bursar; and Will Ogden, IT Technician.

As Academic Advisor, Angela partners alongside students in “staying the course” toward their academic goals by helping them select coursework each semester.  She also coordinates non-credit community workshops such as Basic Functions of Microsoft Office, Basic Functions of Facebook and Basic Functions of a Smartphone that help the community utilize technology to a fuller extent.

Robin assists students with financial aid and scholarships, and Will teaches students how to access their UA Little Rock e-mail and other accounts and to register for classes online. He also enables students and instructors to better utilize digital platforms for teaching and learning.

Enrollment at the Benton Campus averages 225 to 300 students, with 71% of the population ages 17-25 and 29% of the population 26-45+. However, since students have the ability to move seamlessly between the Benton Campus, the Little Rock main campus and online studies through the Pathways program, Benton student population fluctuates each semester.

UA Little Rock Benton Campus offers state minimum core courses, nursing degree prerequisites, an Associate of Arts in General Studies, and new this year at the Benton location is an Associate of Science in Computer Programming or Law Enforcement as well as a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management or Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. The opportunity to earn a four-year degree solely at the Benton Campus marks a first for Saline County.

Bachelors of Business Administration in Business Management:

A degree in Business Management provides a strong foundation in business essentials and develops practical problem-solving skills needed in organizational leadership and service. Potential careers for those with this degree include Business Analyst, Human Resource Officer, Investment Banker and Insurance Underwriter.

Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies:

A degree in Interdisciplinary Studies provides the option to combine three areas of interest and create a personalized degree plan that works for the individual. Many students can use upper-level transfer hours to satisfy one area of study, while customizing a degree plan that meets specific goals.

New students choosing to major in Interdisciplinary Studies have the opportunity to build a degree that draws from several areas of study, allowing them to expand their field of knowledge to include multiple disciplines, making career potential virtually limitless.

For those desiring to begin a new degree or finish an existing degree program,

Saline County is fortunate to have access to convenient, high-quality individualized higher education opportunities through the UA Little Rock Benton Campus.