Article via ThurstonTalk
By Molly Walsh
Pivoting to meet the needs of adult and returning students, South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) is introducing an extended menu of evening, weekend and online courses beginning fall quarter 2019. With work schedules, family life and other daily obligations in mind, academic counseling, financial aid and tutoring programs will also see extended hours at the college. These program expansions are an answer for students seeking a degree to further their career, while still having the chance to attend a local college.
An overhaul of previously existing programs, the extended online and evening study options will span multiple subjects and degree programs. For programs that are already concentrated online or during evening hours, more classes will be added within the structure. Classes that are traditionally held in person during the day will also now feature evening and online options.
With new hours and class structures part of SPSCC’s fall quarter schedule, it will now be possible to obtain certain degrees mostly or completely online. A popular degree option, the Associate in Arts Direct Transfer Degree will now be available 100 percent online from SPSCC. The Associate in Arts Direct Transfer is a two-year degree that enables students to move onto a four-year university as a junior after graduation from SPSCC.
For healthcare students, there will be a larger selection of evening classes in medical assisting and prerequisites for Nursing. There is also an all-evening option for the Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA) Program, for dental assistants who want to obtain a license to perform more involved dental work.
A recent addition to SPSCC’s menu of classes, the Craft Brewing and Distilling Program was created with an online and weekend schedule in mind. Mostly conducted online, the brewing and distilling program meets a few times a quarter during the weekend to visit regional distillers, brewers, farmers or other professionals in the industry. The in-person work involves practical application of academic lessons and labs, and connects to real world examples, like visiting small batch breweries or hop farms.
“This program was built to serve anyone in the country who wants a degree in craft brewing or distilling, specifically, because you can’t get a distilling degree anywhere else in the U.S.,” says Director of Strategic Communications at SPSCC, Kati Sagawa.
The decision to expand online and evening courses came after SPSCC hired a consultant to evaluate how SPSCC can best serve the evolving needs of its current and future students. After receiving the consultant’s report, the college reflected internally on the courses offered and how the current catalog fit with different student schedules. During this time, a gap in ideal class times was discovered for adult learners attending the college while still working full time.
“We knew we could do more to serve a huge population in our community,” said Sagawa, “which are adults that are currently working but need some additional certifications or additional education to excel or move up in their careers or to turn a job into a career.”
Many of the extended programs fall under professional or technical degree programs, each of which has an advisory committee. Each committee is comprised of local business owners or professionals working in the field, providing input on college programs. The decision to add more online and evening courses will not only help more students obtain degrees, but it will also allow students to stay local and build connections with professionals in the area.
In addition to an expanded course schedule, SPSCC also recognized a need for expanded support services. For students unable to make daytime academic or financial advising hours, or in-person tutoring sessions, the college is currently working out a plan to offer these supportive services during evening hours, online or over the phone. The college plans to roll out extended hours for academic advising, in addition to online options for peer mentoring and tutoring.
“Everyone can hopefully take advantage of those, as long as they know that they’re there, without having to come on campus,” explains Sagawa.
The goal for SPSCC is to become a college for many different kinds of students, whether a recent high school graduate or an adult with a full-time job and a family. The college wants to enable students to fit classes around their life, rather than change their life to attend classes.
“Many of our students juggle work and family responsibilities while pursuing their education,” explains Associate Dean of Counseling, Advising and Access Services at SPSCC, Laura Antczak. “So, these options provide the flexibility they need to accomplish their academic goals.”
To learn more about SPSCC and their extended online and evening course options for fall quarter, visit the South Puget Sound Community College website.