Early last year, officials at Sojourner-Douglass College started to think about expanding. The college, primarily an adult institution, already has campuses in Baltimore and Annapolis and on the Eastern Shore. The college's dean, Bernard Gross, and his colleagues saw another group of potential students, however.

"We've looked at the Prince George's County situation for about a year," said Gross, now the coordinator of the college's Prince George's program. Officials at the college, whose name comes from Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, saw the county as an excellent location for a new site for the college, which offers evening undergraduate courses in business subjects.

Later this month, Sojourner-Douglass's new classrooms are expected to open at 8200 Professional Place in New Carrollton.

The college is the only private, predominantly African American college in Maryland that focuses mostly on adults who are returning to school after a break in their education, Gross said.

The college has about 800 students in part-time programs in the state. Gross estimated that the average age of students is 35.

The school offers bachelor's degrees in administration, human and social resources and human growth and development.

D. Elizabeth Newman, a freshman at the Baltimore campus, described Sojourner-Douglass as "a good alternative" for many people, including those with full-time jobs or families.

Newman learned about the school from a friend who was a student and eventually enrolled herself. She is working toward a degree in community organization and has been elected vice president of the student council. "It's been like going to school with my family," she said.

In addition to attracting county residents, the school may be able to take advantage of its proximity to the nation's capital. "We feel that the location will enable us to pick up people from Washington, D.C.," Gross said. He said he hopes the new campus will attract an initial enrollment of about 50 students.

Adults may receive credit at the school for "life experience," Gross said, which means it could be possible to earn a bachelor of arts degree in three 15-week trimesters.

Although the new campus is taking up most of their attention at the moment, Sojourner-Douglass's administrators have other plans for the future, including a master's degree program that Gross said is in the works for 2000.

For information on the college, which is accredited in Maryland, check the Web site at host.sdc.edu or call 1-888-444-4118. Tuition is $2,200 a trimester, which pays for as many as 18 credit hours, Gross said.