Most classes at Pierce are pretty straightforward. They are offered on campus in a typical setting, once or twice a week somewhere between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. And, there are normally a large variety of courses and programs that suit students’ needs or desires.
Still, for some students the traditional school schedule makes finishing a degree in a timely manner difficult.
At Pierce there are supplemental learning programs that offer an alternative way of learning.
Here’s a look at a few of them.
Accelerated College Education (PACE)
According to the Director of PACE, Arthur Gillis, this program established in 1976, is designed for working adults who aspire to get a college degree but can’t afford the time during the week for regular full semester classes.
“The average PACE student is 34 years old and has a full time job during the day,” said Gillis.
Gilles attributes students’ maturity to his claim that PACE has the highest success rate than any program on campus because the transfer rate is three times the traditional student transfer rate; the retention rate is approaching 96 percent and PACE students make up 25 percent of the dean’s list.
“These people are coming back to school after years of being away, and they are more committed because they have made the mistakes of youth,” said Gillis. “They realize how important a degree is at this point and they want to get it as soon as possible.”
In an effort to fulfill these desires and allow as many PACE students to graduate as soon as possible, there are no caps on class size. In a traditional class the instructor gets additional pay in the event that there are over 70 students enrolled in the class. This program has a special aspect in the faculty contract in which instructor salaries are unaffected by a class size over 70.
“We have 4000 students going through the program every year and it’s tripled in the last five years,” said Gillis.
All classes offered in the schedule are CSU transferrable, and follow the undergraduate requirements for those programs at local CSU’s.
Most classes are held one night a week and on alternating Saturdays. The schedule is based on four different educational paths that allow transfer requirements to be completed in a two-year cycle. In that time span every course is offered that is needed for an associate’s degree and CSU certification in general studies, business, child development or education.
In every regular 16-week semester, there are two PACE semesters that span over eight weeks, offering two courses from every above-mentioned educational path and an additional summer semester.
The same rules apply for PACE courses as their equivalent full semester course; they are the same amount of units and same price and bare no difference on transcripts.
Only Pierce students who have gone to a PACE orientation can sign-up for classes which are held either on the Pierce College Campus, Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) Beaudry Headquarters in Los Angeles, or Kennedy High School in Granada Hills.
Funding is no different than other programs on campus thus students have the same resources, such as financial aid, available to them.
For schedules and more information visit http://info.piercecollege.edu/offices/Pace/.
Television (ITV), the Weekend College
ITV (Instructional Television) is a college transfer program and that offers the general education courses students need to complete their degree or transfer to either a UC or CSU, in an alternate form of education for students in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD).
It offers blended classes that combine in-class meetings with an online classroom and instructional television.
According to the Director of ITV Pal McKenna, it is designed so that one-third of the class is in person, one-third is online, and one-third is through TV programs broadcasted on public television and available for purchase.
“We are a very unique, district wide program serving two percent of district enrollments, which is pretty cool,” said McKenna.
McKenna exclaimed that the concept comes from the old Instructional Television Model, which was created about 40 years ago when the LACCD was instrumental in creating the first college classes ever on U.S. television. “Then Internet was included into the program in 1995 and it has continued to develop since then,” he said.
It is considered a school within the district, with a home base at Mission College, thus the course price and unit count is equal to traditional semester courses and all traditional resources are available including financial aid.
“It’s a great way to get your education at a very good price,” he said.
According to McKenna, ITV attracts a large population of working adults or parents with the average age being 37 because two-thirds of the course can be done according to students’ preference.
The in-class meetings are offered solely on the weekends with the same exact class (by the same teacher) being conducted at two campuses a day during two different time slots at each of the following campuses depending on the semester: Pierce Campus, Los Angeles City College, Southwest College Campus, or Valley College.
This gives students the opportunity to choose when and where, out of four different possibilities in a weekend, to attend the in-class instruction.
There are two ITV semesters within a traditional semester, each eight weeks long.
However according to McKenna, due to budget cuts there will not be a Winter, 2011 ITV session for the first time in six years.
Classes that are most popular may appear in consecutive semesters because due to budget restrictions, ITV does have enrollment caps and the classes tend to fill early.
“I wish I could put out more classes,” said McKenna.
The scheduling is based on student experience and past success and according to McKenna a balanced level of difficulty.
“I look at the load factor,” he said. “We want to ensure that students are prepared to transfer so these classes are demanding. They require students to focus on their class and work hard, if they do that the majority of students are successful.
Faculty for ITV have to meet the same requirements as any faculty at the other community colleges and in addition must take a four week course on how to effectively teach online with ETUDES, the online learning modem.
“For faculty too this is a rigorous schedule,” he said. “We look for faculty who are extremely student centered and passionate about their discipline.”
For schedules and more information visit http://www.lamission.edu/itv/
Unlike the other educational programs mentioned, Pierce Extension is a not for credit program which means there cannot be units affiliated with this program.
There are no units or grades involved in the courses offered through Extension, they are purely recreational.
According to Cindy Change, director of Pierce Extension, this program has been in existence since around 1970.
In the mission statement it states that, “Extension is a self-sustaining, user-fee supported, non-profit community education program which welcomes everyone in the community to participate.”
Besides for the Foster and Kinship Care program, Pierce Extension is not funded by the state. Students who wish to attend Extension courses must pay a fee, which varies from course to course, and the payments are put towards salaries, supplies and other expenses.
Just as this program does not receive money from the district, patrons cannot receive financial aid or other district resources to attend.
Extension has a large variety of courses that appeal to community interests, in categories ranging from Business & Careers, Consumer Interests, Cultural Discovery and Recreation.
“If somebody proposes a class we’ll usually offer it. As long as those classes are well attended and get good responses, we’ll keep it going,” said Chang.
Anyone, from potty-trained to adults, can register to Pierce Extension.
Extension is on a quarterly system, with offered courses based on community proposals and attendance.
According to Chang there are over 15,000 students who attend per year with the most successful programs being geared toward children in the summer.
The classes range in time and length depending on the course. Some are just one-day courses while others are once a week, for six weeks.
Most of them take place on the Pierce campus; otherwise venues are rented out in various places in the community.
“The surf class for instance is in Malibu,” said Chang.
Extension courses are taught by experts in the course related field and not necessarily teachers.
There is also an online Pierce Extension program for people that can’t physically attend a classroom.
For more information and schedules visit http://extension.piercecollege.edu/