OLS at Bellevue College is an innovative 90 credit associate's degree program unlike any other program in the nation. This program gives adults with cognitive disabilities the opportunity to acquire an accredited college degree that leads to post-graduation employment rates well above the national average. The curriculum is occupational and life skills based taught through scaffolded instruction and universal design. All OLS courses focus on developing critical thinking skills, soft skills, and self-determination skills. Courses incorporate service learning in the community with local businesses as a way to help students utilize new skills outside of the classroom. Students create a career pathway throughout the program that is specific to their self-identified skills, strengths, and passions. An internship of 200 hours related to that career pathway is completed during their last two quarters. This internship is mutually beneficial for both the business partner and the intern. Some internships translate into jobs and most students are employed in their career pathway within three months after graduation.
OLS students are eligible for State and Federal Financial Aid. Students with the greatest financial need may attend with minimal financial contribution.
All OLS courses focus on developing critical thinking skills, social skills, and self-determination skills. Specialized scaffolded instruction, infused with 21st Century skills, assists students to learn college content that is directly related to a student’s career pathway and life. Courses also include service learning in the community with local businesses.