Drive faster than 20 mph on Riva Road and you're liable to miss the tiny sign that points to the Annapolis campus of University of Maryland's University College.
Nestled near the rear of an industrial park on Admiral Cochrane Drive, the small, satellite campus has been quietly educating "non-traditional" students for four years.
"We no longer have just the traditional 18- to 22-year-old college student," said Karen Hillman, coordinator of the college's Annapolis center. "We have to offer more flexibility in the scheduling and in the types of classes we offer."
Often, it is difficult for adults with full-time jobs and families to pursue their education in a classroom, Ms. Hillman added. That's where the Annapolis campus comes in.
Students can work toward degrees in business and management, computer science, or liberal arts through a variety of methods from independent study and TV courses to computer-based instruction.
For a more traditional approach, the campus has seven classrooms. Classes are scheduled in the evenings and on weekends, with the evening classes meeting one night a week for three hours for 16 weeks.
The college also has a computer lab where students work independently.
Since the Annapolis center opened in 1988, enrollments have grown an average of 68 percent each year, Ms. Hillman said. The college has about 600 students taking classes each semester.
One of the students taking classes at the Annapolis campus is Elzie Gilbert. On good days, Mr. Gilbert, 65, walks the mile and a half from his home to the campus to take courses like "History of the U.S. Since World War II."
"I'm semi-retired," Mr. Gilbert said. "I worked for 47 years. I ran Gilbert Realty for 32 years. I couldn't afford the time to take classes when I was operating a business. And I couldn't afford the money to go to college before I had the business.
"Now, I have the time. And as a senior citizen it doesn't cost me much to come here. It's only $5 a course," he added.
Jennifer Pitz, 22, travels from Stevensville on Kent Island to the Annapolis campus. A chemical technician for the University of Maryland, Ms. Pitz spends all day Tuesday and Thursday at the campus pursuing her bachelor's degree in business. She will be graduating in May. "I chose to come here because its the closest place to my house," she said. "The classes are convenient and I like the [interactive] television program."
Arnold resident Mike Mack, 26, is in his junior year at the college. He is pursuing a degree in political science and contemplating going to law school upon graduation. "This program is just really good for people who either work full-time or who don't have time to sit in a classroom," Mr. Mack said. "It's very flexible. If I can't make it here, I can [videotape] a lecture, look at it later, and not miss a thing."