Self-Sustaining Degrees Allow for New Learning Opportunities

Carrie Kaelin, a professor in the UW Department of Health Services, creatively crafts her curriculum to fit the goals and needs of students.

Many of us are outside of our comfort zone, which is great because that’s part of learning. I think there’s a lot of potential to really learn above and beyond.

Carrie Kaelin

The University of Washington offers a wide range of degree programs for undergraduate students. Through Continuum College, schools and departments across the university can create new opportunities for students through self-sustaining bachelor’s degrees.

We help our partners — like Carrie Kaelin, a professor in the UW Department of Health Services — think creatively and innovatively to develop programs to fit their goals and needs, without state funding. Students can choose between online or in-person options to help strengthen their credentials.

Carrie Kaelin knows that all of us, undergraduate students and UW professors alike, have had to do some rearranging in 2020.

“A lot of us are working in makeshift offices right now,” Carrie said. “I’m set up in my living room, managing an infant climbing all over me, and I’ve shared that with my class. I’ve shared that we’re all in this together. I think now it’s more important than ever to be really cognizant of that.”

For Carrie, creating that togetherness meant encouraging her students to be open about what was successful — and what wasn’t — from the beginning of her Health Care Language course this fall.  

“On the first day of class, I talked with the students and told them, ‘If something isn’t working, if it doesn’t feel right, let me know,’” Carrie said. “I want feedback. That ongoing communication and feedback loop is really important to me, so I can adjust in real time.”

As with so many changes this year, the shift to remote instruction featured some hiccups and hurdles along the way. But Carrie believes that the pivot provided an opportunity to showcase what classrooms are ultimately for.

“I like to see it as a learning opportunity for everyone,” she said. “Many of us are outside of our comfort zone, which is great because that’s part of learning. It can be nerve-wracking, but it can also be exciting. I think there’s a lot of potential to really learn above and beyond.”