The exploration of an external degree in recreation as an alternative educational method

The overall purpose of this study was to collect descriptive data regarding individuals interested in an External Degree in Recreation that could be offered through the California State University and College System, either on a nearby campus or at a site closer to their residence. Specifically, the problem of the study was to obtain information regarding the following: (1) the personal background and characteristics of selected interested recreators, (2) educational level of these individuals, (3) their interests and desires concerning a nontraditional degree versus a traditional on-campus degree in recreation, and (4) possible ways of financing an External Degree Program in Recreation. The survey method was used to gather data. A total of 144 questionnaires were mailed to ten selected schools and interested individuals who live, work or attend school in the geographic area served by California State University, Northridge. Eighty-one (56. 2%) completed questionnaires were returned and used in the study. A review of related literature and research indicated that, although there is ample literature describing the historical background of current external degree programs in higher education institutions, there is no evidence available that describes personal and motivational characteristics of individuals interested in pursuing such alternative instructional systems. From the data gathered in the survey, information was obtained that described personal data and educational interests. Data showed individuals interested in external degrees may be of either gender, between the ages of 21 and 29, single, have no dependents and earn over $10,000 a year. These individuals possess a high school diploma or equivalent, and have completed under 30 units of college work with only 6 units of work in the field of recreation. These individuals are interested in the concept of the external degree. They believe that this type of program will offer study at more convenient and desirable times than would traditional college on-campus programs. Further, the respondents felt that this type of alternative method of education would add relevancy to their job or work in addition to developing positive factors for promotion. Those respondents interested would be able to spend approximately 10 to 20 hours per week on academic work. That evidence also suggested that the respondents could not make extensive weekly commitments, and that higher education should fit into a schedule and pattern of life situations. The respondents reflected a self-motivation and preference for individualized learning programs and minimum contact with instructors. They would probably take from one to four courses per semester and are financially able to support this type of program. Financing would come from their savings or a grant from the government or state. The interested individuals prefer to study for an external degree near work or at a state college or university. California State University, Northridge, was selected as the institution being the most popular in terms of closeness, while the following communities were selected as preferable off-campus sites for external degree programs: Northridge, Woodland Hills/Canoga Park, and Van Nuys. The information in this study identifies specific selected characteristics of individuals seeking a degree in Recreation in a nontraditional alternative educational method. (See more in text.)