OLS Frequently Asked Questions
- Who are OLS students?
- The Learning Environment
- AOLS Degree Program
- Financial Aid
- Admissions Process
- Student Life
Who are OLS students?
As of Fall 2012 there are 59 active students enrolled in OLS. 18 new students began in Fall 2011. All students are at least 18 years old with others well into adulthood. All have finished high school.
Where do OLS students travel from?
We have students from as far away as Everett, Tacoma, and Bremerton. Many students use the bus system, ACCESS and the ferry system. Some have completed their school district’s Transition Program through age 21. Others come to OLS immediately after graduating from high school. Some students come to OLS to improve their range and quality of vocational choices after spending several years in the workforce.
The Learning Environment
What kind of learning experience can I expect at OLS?
All courses are college-level with small class sizes (12 or less). The class size allows teaching that considers the whole student. All students are required to complete the same learning experiences including coursework, homework, and tests. The time in class is longer per credit to allow for more learning time with specific subject matter and differentiated instruction.
How do OLS courses address individual differences in students’ strengths, learning styles and types of disability?
OLS curriculum accurately targets the instructional level of OLS students. It is rigorous and yet, by design, its course standards are attainable for students with various learning differences who are functioning at varying academic and cognitive levels.
During the first year, students discover their learning styles, their strengths and their abilities through carefully sequenced course work. OLS faculty work with the students based on these discoveries. Students learn to advocate for their needs during their learning process.
How is OLS different from the K-12 special education system?
The K-12 special education model has a legal obligation to provide individualized instruction for all students specific to their learning needs and to facilitate success in all environments. In contrast to K-12, OLS serves admitted OLS students. Our students are held to the same requirements and expectations as all Bellevue College students from admissions to course work. We follow the same guidelines as the Bellevue College Disability Resource Center (DRC) regarding accommodations in the college environment. Failure in a course is a possibility if course outcomes are not met. The OLS courses have been specifically designed for students with mild developmental disabilities. Instructors use various teaching techniques to address the different learning styles of students in each course. Specific accommodation to course work is limited.
Is there an equivalent of an IEP?
There are no individualized educational plans developed at OLS.
Are Aides used in OLS courses?
No. OLS students' responsibility for self is constant during the time on the Bellevue College campus, including leaving the classroom for breaks, lunch, and transportation to and from home. However, we do have support from a counselor, instructors, and the Program Manager for difficulties as they arise.
Does OLS have a learning center or resource room?
No. OLS courses are structured so that teachers provide instruction tailored to students’ needs. However, students may receive additional help with coursework each week through attending the Learning Lab.
Are course standards flexible so that all students move through the program?
No. Bellevue College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Students are required to meet clearly specified course standards to receive credit for each course.
How are OLS courses different from Bellevue College’s other courses, and what special instructional techniques are used?
- OLS courses are smaller (12 students maximum) so instructors can better focus on individual student’s learning needs.
- Content is delivered over a longer time to allow for creative explanations of concepts, scaffolding, and exploration of topics as they relate to the student's life.
- Learning is reinforced through lecture, discussion, repetition, teamwork and practical experiences.
- All content areas are directly related in some form to real life experiences and expectations.
How much homework is there?
Homework varies by instructor and is carefully designed. Homework content has already been introduced by the instructor and is a continuum of course content.
How are OLS students evaluated?
See the assessment page.
Are there opportunities to observe OLS courses in action?Back
AOLS Degree Program
How many credits are needed to earn the Associate in Occupational and Life Skills Degree?
The Associate in Occupational and Life Skills Degree is a 90-credit program: 79 credits are required courses, plus 5 elective credits of body/mind awareness courses and 6 elective credits.
How long does it take to earn the AOLS?
All 90 credits may be completed in 4 years if a student enrolls in 9 credits each quarter, 5 years at 6 credits each quarter. We encourage students to balance their course load with work and personal obligations so that their experience as a student is positive and manageable.
How many courses are students required to take each quarter?
Each quarter varies, approximately 4-6 credits per quarter.
How will I know what courses to take?
Student advising appointments are held before registration opens each quarter. Recommendations are made based on prerequisites and the 4-year sequence of course offerings.
Must courses be taken in a particular order?
Yes. Each course lays a foundation for the next course. There is a particular sequence that is used to build upon prior experience and knowledge.
Is it possible to take other Bellevue College courses while I am enrolled with OLS?
Yes. OLS students are Bellevue College students with all the rights, responsibilities and privileges. OLS students may enroll in any Bellevue College courses as long as course prerequisites are met. Bellevue College Disability Resource Center (DRC) will assist with any accommodations required by the student in courses other than OLS.
Are OLS credits transferable to a four-year college?
No, OLS is a non-transferable associate degree; however, the college experience at OLS provides stepping stones for further higher education in the future.Back
For what kind of work does OLS prepare students?
OLS develops a career pathway with the student and facilitates a goal for employment, starting with a broad pathway and narrowing it as the student progresses through OLS. Trends in the labor market will be used to help direct the student into a career pathway that reflects his or her strengths. Courses are designed to be work-related and to provide practical experiences that will facilitate success.
What sort of internship experience do OLS students gain?
- OLS students begin their career pathway in their first year.
- Courses and part of the grading system are focused on soft skills that are required to maintain a job in the workforce.
- As they progress through the coursework, students work with the OLS internship coordinator to identify careers that fit their personal goals, interests and abilities. During their final year of OLS, students participate in field experiences related to their career pathway.
Do students receive job placements on graduation?
No. Obtaining employment is not a requirement or a formal goal of the OLS Associate Degree program. We do work in concert with enrolled DVR clients.
"This program really helps its students become more aware of their own disabilities as well as others'. OLS-Venture also strongly supports their ability to interact with the world and what they can do to face difficult challenges especially at work." --Andrew
Can OLS students receive government financial aid?
- Yes. Bellevue College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Because OLS is part of the for-credit curriculum at Bellevue College, students in OLS are eligible for federal financial aid as well as state and local assistance. The first step to qualifying for any type of financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Step-by-step instructions, forms, and other additional information is available at the Bellevue College Financial Aid web site. Applying for financial aid begins the January before applying for OLS. Many of our students receive financial aid and all prospective students should apply regardless of income.
See the admissions page.Back
What options are there for transportation?
OLS is located at Bellevue College North Campus, 14673 NE 29th Place, near the intersection of 148th Avenue and State Route 520 in Bellevue, Washington. King County Metro’s Overlake Transit Center is the nearest major hub for bus connections. Several buses service 148th Avenue, just 1 block away from campus. Training in use of the transit system is available through First Transit. Students may also inquire about ACCESS service through King County Metro.Back
Are there opportunities to participate in social events and clubs?
There is an active student council that plans activities for students at OLS. Bellevue College Student Programs also offers a wide variety of clubs.
For example, two OLS students participated in the 2009 Disabilities Awareness Internship sponsored by the Bellevue College Rotaract Club. The experience included a trip to Nepal as well as participation in local service projects promoting awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities. Check out Cultivating Compassion, a short video about their trip.
Are courses offered during the summer?
Not at this time. It is a good time to do volunteer work or work to increase skills on your resume.
What is the role of a student in OLS?
Learning to advocate for YOU is something everyone experiences when going to college. It is expected that as a student you will ask questions, let someone know if you need something, talk to those around you, make friends who can support you, and stand up for what you believe in. College is a time for self discovery, finding out what you like or don’t like, being a responsible learner and becoming a well-rounded educated person.
"OLS-Venture has been a very fun and great learning experience. The classes were very hard and they make you think more." --Zack
What is the role of a parent in OLS?
Student self-determination, learned directly through student experience, is a cornerstone of OLS. Experiences increase knowledge that leads to well-informed, intelligent choices. Students learn to be responsible Bellevue College students. The college student is OLS' focus. It is the responsibility of the student to communicate with the parent/caregiver regularly about the happenings at school and share their work with their parents as they choose.Back