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On the Road to a College Degree

Under the listing of American colleges beginning with the letter "I," you'll find entries like Indiana University; Iona College in New York State; and the universities of Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Idaho.

And there's a new one: In-Cab University in California, New Mexico, Maine, Florida, Mississippi, Ohio . . . . In fact, In-Cab U. is in every state, even far-off Alaska and Hawaii. You see, In-Cab University is a four-year, fully accredited, online university with ties to a technical college in Tennessee. In-Cab U's student body consists of more than 500 long-distance truckers, criss-crossing the nation. Many of them stopped their formal education after high school and never dreamed they'd get to college.

Their classrooms are the cabs of their big-rig trucks. Hence the name: In-Cab U. Instructors' lectures, as well as most of the learning materials, appear on the drivers' laptop computers. Drivers can study any time, any place -- except, one would hope, while barreling down the highway at 90 kilometers an hour!

Because truckers are in short supply and great demand, many big trucking companies pay their drivers' tuition. "Rather than driving all day and dreaming about lottery winnings," one driver told Newsweek magazine, "I'm actually using my mind."

Courses at In-Cab U center on jobs that fit the trucking industry, like training, sales, and fleet management. The school's online brochure includes a sales pitch that's perfect for professional drivers. It reads: "Let Us Steer You in the Right Direction." And the beauty of it is: the drivers can work toward a college degree now . . . not down the road!