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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Late-start classes are coming

Pierce College announced that more than 75 late-start and online classes, most scheduled to begin Oct. 26, according to the school website

According to Pierce College President Alexis Montevirgen, enrollment numbers for the fall semester dropped 9% compared to last year. 

Late start classes are expected both to challenge the deficit and also to increase the avenues for students to overcome obstacles. 

“We are providing students an opportunity to not have to wait until the winter or spring semesters to jump back in school and get into those late start classes,” Montevirgen said.

After five months of remote learning, students continue to face real-life challenges because of the pandemic.

From the inability to enroll in full-term classes because of high demand, to lack of proper equipment or access to the internet, to unsuitable housing conditions or unemployment, late start classes offer relief for the students affected.

“Maybe at the beginning of the term, students were feeling a little overwhelmed by all of their classes so maybe they dropped one, but then a few weeks go by and they feel like they got a handle on it,” Angela Belden, professor of psychology and statistics, said. 

“There are all sorts of reasons, but certainly, the eight-week model is an excellent model because you can focus on one class more intensely,” Belden said.

As remote learning has become the new norm due to the closure of campus to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus among students, the amount of late start courses increased considerably to more than 70 to adjust for high demand. 

 “This pandemic has caused a lot of disruption, and our focus and our hope is to provide options for our students,” Earic Dixon-Peters, vice president of Student Services, said. “Late start classes have always been a part of our strategy before the pandemic. But even more so now, we have these late start classes because of our students’ needs. To make sure that they have the opportunity to enroll and complete their educational goals.” 

While the eight-week model of late start classes makes learning fast paced and more intense, the content of the courses is slightly adjusted to accommodate for the time, but the quality of the lectures, assignments, and tests remain unchanged.

“We have to deliver the same content, no matter the format. Whether it’s a 16-week, a five-week or an eight-week, the content is the content,” Belden said. “It’s dictated by the course outline of the record, and as a faculty member delivering this kind of material, you have to cover it no matter what.”

“It’s a great idea to take advantage of this model because you can get one more class in the semester,” Belden said.  “One more thing to mark off your to do list, one more class finished, one more step towards your goal.”

Students from many walks of life, varied circumstances and from all ages that are currently attending Pierce have different needs. 

The various choices offered at Pierce promote inclusivity and are vital to students as they try to figure out what path to traverse towards their objective. 

“We understand what our students need, and that their educational goals and outcomes varies from getting a certificate or being a lifelong learner, to transferring or just getting their AA degree and going out into the workforce,” Dixon-Peters said. “We know on that spectrum a lot of our students are trying to complete their educational goals.” 

Dixon-Peters emphasized that students should know about the different services provided by Pierce, such as online tutoring, online support programs, EOP&S, academic counseling, health support and dedicated faculty. 

“It’s important for them to know as they start their courses that there are several support mechanisms that we have in place to help them complete their goals,” Dixon-Peters said. “All of these programs are here for our students so they can take advantage of them to help them to stay on track.”

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