LEESBURG, Fla. (FNN News) – Beacon College, the nation’s first higher learning institution dedicated to serving students with learning disabilities (LD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other learning differences, has seen rapid growth in the last three years—48.6%, to be exact—and is using its newfound momentum to make an even greater imprint on the national landscape. “There’s no other school west of the Mississippi like Beacon,” Beacon College President Dr. George Hagerty said in a recent interview with FNN News. “Others are reaching out to us to learn Beacon’s model.”
Dr. Hagerty and other key Beacon College staff will travel to Washington, D.C. this week to present the Beacon College model to lawmakers so that other states may learn it and mimic its results. He is confident in the model based on its consistent results. He recalled receiving numerous calls from parents whose children attend Beacon College and return home new, and ask him with delight, “What have you done with my child?” noting that their son or daughter returned home more confident and happy.
The now twenty-seven-year-old institution, located in the quaint city of Leesburg in Lake County, Florida, was the brainchild of a passionate group of parents who wanted to see their children succeed. Beacon College touts an impressive 83.3% success rate of its alumni either entering into their desired industries or continuing education. Stringent admissions standards partly facilitate those numbers. “We only accept fifty-eight percent of applications,” said Dr. Hagerty, who joined Beacon College in 2013. “The student must be college-ready, and have average to high intelligence.” He elaborated that college-ready applicants are self-motivated, have a high school diploma, and show that they are able to do higher-level work.
The other more essential ingredient to the college’s success and current national attention is its groundbreaking curriculum model. According to the college’s website, “All Beacon faculty members are trained and proficient in meeting the needs of students who learn differently, with expertise in experiential learning, assessment design, and use of assistive technology and different learning models.” The Robert & Jane Weiner Writing Center, Center for Student Success, Math Lab, and Peer Tutor Program provide the students the additional individual attention they need to conquer their academic challenges. Students are groomed for success from year one with such available services as life coaching, occupational therapy, student health, and counseling to meet their physical, mental, social, and emotional needs. Because of the intimate community environment these services foster, Dr. Hagerty aims to limit the student population to 450 or less to allow students to bond with the faculty and each other, and increase their confidence.
And the model is working. Dr. Hagerty stated that 35% of enrolled students came from other quality higher learning institutions but did not receive the support they needed.
Dr. Hagerty identifies with the students’ challenges and unflinching determination. He has been legally blind for twenty years. “We have our “island of challenge,” he explained. “And we find the skills to work around it.”
Beacon College, a four-year school, currently offers Bachelors degrees in psychology, interdisciplinary studies, information technology, business management, hospitality, human services, and studio arts. Minors include English/literature, game design, entrepreneurship, history, and education. The school even offers a Travel Abroad and Cultural Studies Program, allowing students to have a life-changing global experience and perspective. Previous countries involved in the program include Spain, Russia, Sweden, Italy, and several other central and western European nations.
Each year of study builds on the previous year, and students have internship opportunities by senior year thanks to Beacon College’s partnerships with national companies like Disney World, SeaWorld, and SunTrust Bank. The school’s Career Development Program improved on its students’ workforce transition process in 2014 by adding “intensive career training, including job shadowing, networking, and participating in classes each year that are focused on self awareness,” according to the website.
According to Dr. Hagerty, over 80% of Beacon College graduates enter the workforce, and 15% go on to grad schools. In fact, the school recently made history: Graduate Rosalyn I. Johnson, Ed.D, who is an Advanced Clinician in Children’s Clinical On-Site Services at Leesburg LifeStream Behavioral Center, is Beacon College’s first to acquire a doctorate degree. Dr. Johnson returned to Beacon College to speak at the freshman invocation thereafter. Several success stories like hers can be found on the school’s website.
Dr. Hagerty beams with optimism for Beacon College’s future. The school is developing an Anthrozoology Bachelor of Science curriculum for students with an affinity for animals and nature. “I’ve never seen a more tightly knit group of students,” he said proudly. “I foresee a community that refuses to be self-satisfied.”
Beacon College’s next open house is Saturday, February 13, and Summer 2016 term registration opens February 22.
Jamaica-born author and freelance journalist Mellissa Thomas is a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film.
She also helps CEOs and executives, advisors, coaches, consultants, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.