In 1881, financial concerns at Osklaoosa College prompted a walkout of many of the faculty, many of whom would, later that year, help establish the first year of Drake University in nearby Des Moines. It has since remained one of Iowa’s premier schools for well over a century, routinely recognized for its value and educational quality.
Initially established under the auspices of the Disciples of Christ, it was considered an oddity at the time of its inception, partially due to an open enrollment policy that took not only women from day one (17 females were part of its inaugural class), but also expanded to take students from all races within its first five years. Housing one of the country’s oldest law schools (it was around even before Drake proper, as it was established in 1865), Drake offers its 5,000+ students Bachelor’s degrees in over 70 different majors across six colleges, as well as several Master’s programs, Doctoral degrees, and postmaster certificates. Even with the large student body, the university utilizes a respectable 14:1 student teacher ratio, allowing for “an exceptional learning environment” that distinguishes itself from the eight other Des Moines colleges.
Drake offers several distance learning opportunities as well, more than just the typical online courses and class registrations for the busy student that can’t make it to class. Its Extension Education program is designed for adult students in the education field, allowing them to work online to the benefit of not only their paycheck, but those they are teaching. Drake’s “graduate level, professional development courses” are designed for primary and secondary school teachers looking to increase their knowledge. These courses can be used simply to further a teacher’s abilities, keeping them current, or can be put towards certification or graduate credit. Whether through online courses (conducted through their Performance Learning Systems with topics ranging from Classroom Management to Reading and Literacy) or video courses (whether for classroom teachers or physical education instructors), educators are given the same opportunity to advance as full time graduate students are, but with a mind to their busy work schedule.
Many of the program’s online courses (the video ones especially) allow you up to a year to finish the coursework and are perfect not only for those working towards graduate degrees, but also those looking to renew their certification and allow for up to 18 credits to be taken each semester. While Drake does not offer any degree programs entirely online, it does all it can to help give adult learners the tools to achieve that further education at least partially through their programs.
Drake offers its student many of the benefits of a larger university, but has managed to maintain those close relationships and care you expect from smaller, private schools. Drake’s mission is one of “collaborative learning…[integrating] the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation”, a goal that has survived since its inception, when it was still novel for a Christian school to teach law and science in conjunction with faith and literature. Today, Drake still provides the same “practical education” it valued from its first day, one that founder George Carpenter saw would give students (both then and now) a mind of both “adaptability and power”.