Worries of audit, UC trips addressed in Academic Senate

Pierce professors need to make sure students are active in their classes or drop them as soon as possible to avoid the school being audited, Distance Education Coordinator Wendy Bass said.

At the Academic Senate meeting on March 27, Bass announced that Pierce’s sister school Southwest College is being audited and will owe the financial aid money given to inactive students.

Bass said that professors who teach distance education classes need to make sure they are engaging with their online students by posting public comments on their discussion posts. Posting lectures and assignments does not count as student-instructor engagement, according to Bass.

This also applies to professors who teach in-person classes. Bass said that they also need to keep track of who is regularly missing classes.

“It’s really, really crucial that we are checking to make sure that our students are staying active in our classes,” Bass said. “The minute a student becomes inactive, we should be excluding them.”

According to Bass, if a class meets in person once a week for three hours, a student who has missed three classes would be considered inactive.

Bass said that when she notices a student hasn’t logged in for a while, she sends them a message reminding them to do their assignments. If the student doesn’t respond, she drops them.

“My enrollment is lower than it’s ever been before because I am so diligently dropping every single inactive student,” Bass said.

She also said that there will be a meeting for professors to discuss the best approach to the situation.

Instructor of psychology Angela Belden suggested that moving the second withdrawal deadline to an earlier date may prevent the college from facing this issue in the future.

“My argument is that if we would move up that second ‘W’ date prior to the second or third financial aid disbursement, then we wouldn’t be in this pickle with inactive enrollment,” Belden said. “And that would hopefully increase success and retention rates.”

Belden also said that moving the withdrawal deadline to an earlier date would be a district-wide decision, but she hopes that it can be done at some point.

“Hopefully, our campus leadership will take it up with the district and we’ll be able to make that happen in the future,” Belden said.

Director of Transfer Center Sunday Salter explained the upcoming events that the Transfer Center is organizing, including field trips to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

According to Salter, the field trip to UCLA is the school’s annual transfer conference for students who want to transfer to any of the UCs. She said that there will be several workshops and activities to help students understand more about the transfer process. She also said that the field trip to UCSB is for students majoring in engineering and computer science.

Salter also talked about Pierce’s recent partnership with UCLA. UCLA students who transferred from Pierce will be at the Transfer Center to discuss their experiences and answer questions about what is needed to do to get into UCLA.

“The students love to talk to them because they have just gone through what these students are trying to do, and it seems like they might have the secret,” Salter said.

There will also be summer programming through UCLA for students, according to Salter. She said there are currently 50 spots for a six-day residential program at UCLA, and that there are also specialized overnight programs depending on students’ majors.

“The beautiful thing about the program is that not only do the students have a fabulous time, but all throughout the next academic year, they are partnered up with a peer mentor who can provide one-on-one support throughout the application process,” Salter said.

According to Salter, students who apply need to meet certain requirements, including having at least a 3.0 GPA. Students can find more information in the Transfer Center.