I’m dreaming of an online winter

We know that college can take a long time. Dedicating time to earn an associates degree or four-year degree can be difficult and often take longer than planned. Loading up on units in the fall and spring semesters is often not enough due to classes that are needed either filling up, being scheduled for the same times or being dropped due to low-enrollment.

The California State University system has dropped the remedial English and math classes in hopes to speed the process for students. A study from the nonprofit group Complete College America showed that only 19 percent of public university students earned a bachelor’s degree in four years, with the majority of students taking six years. In fact, only 50 of more than 580 institutions graduate a majority of their students on-time.

The numbers are worse for community colleges. According to the same study, only 5 percent of full-time students are able to earn an associate degree within two years.

Most students must take classes during the summer and winter sessions as well. For these shortened semesters, online courses are often a better option for students than being in a classroom for five hours a day, four days a week. However, there is a lack of online classes for the winter session when it comes to the core general education math and English classes that all students looking to earn a degree must take. Opening online courses for core sections like math and English would help speed the process of moving students on to their next step in education.

With Pierce’s winter schedule recently releasing, there seems to be a glaring omission. When it comes to the english classes required for general education (101, 102 and 103), there is only one section available online, a 101 course. Considering the fact that most students enrolled in winter were previously enrolled in the fall, opening up some more sections of the second English class needed could help speed the process.

Math classes have a similar problem in the winter, where not a single online course is offered for any section. Prior to the start of the fall 2017 semester, multiple math courses were dropped due to low enrollment, despite the math department urging to keep them open because those classes tend to fill up by the start of the semester.

These classes are not difficult to create for an instructor who already has the curriculum for an in-class course. Much of the grading, especially with online math classes, is done automatically through the site, so online courses do not add a full class workload to an instructor’s day.

While there are general education classes offered online during the winter session, they are not the classes that every student must take. Offering these courses online would give more students a better chance of moving on from Pierce and to the next level of education, or work, quicker than the current norm.