Many recent changes in higher education here to stay | Viewpoints

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The start of each semester is a time of great joy and hope for me – joy that students are back on campus and hope that they will achieve their educational goals.

Throughout the pandemic, I had to continually adjust my expectations at the start of a semester. We don’t have as many students on campus as before the pandemic, as many students choose to enroll in online classes instead of face-to-face classes. For this reason, I wondered whether or not students enrolled in online courses would do as well as students in face-to-face courses.

However, looking at some recent student data, I’m thrilled to see how well they’re doing!

During the last fall semester, 75% of all students earned a grade of C or better, and 91% of dual enrollment students passed their courses.

Our three-year graduation rate has also remained stable during the pandemic. We achieved a small increase in the number of students graduating, from 31% to 31.7%.

Last fall, 390 students earned 417 diplomas and certificates. This is in addition to the 1,320 degrees and certificates awarded in the previous academic year. These recent graduates have transferred to four-year colleges or been employed as nurses, police officers, electrical engineers, computer programmers, or respiratory therapists, to name a few career paths.

Throughout the pandemic, we have also provided non-credit workforce training to meet the needs of local employers. Last fall, over 200 students benefited from our non-credit healthcare training, preparing individuals to work as phlebotomists, certified medical assistants or dental assistants – again to name just a few career fields. . We also offered 75 apprenticeship opportunities with local businesses and industries, and offered more than 400 industry-specific training courses.

Such successes during a pandemic are a testament to the resilience, creativity, and ingenuity of our students, faculty, and staff. They have adapted to new forms of learning, whether all online or a mix of online and face-to-face learning, and they have demonstrated that they can succeed in this new environment. of learning.

While face-to-face learning and student engagement on campus will always remain a priority as we move forward, I believe the way we teach and support students has changed permanently. When registering, our students choose online courses in greater numbers than face-to-face courses. Our employees offer online and face-to-face support, giving students even more options. And I don’t think those things will change when the pandemic recedes.

The good news that has emerged in the midst of this pandemic is that we have developed new ways to meet the needs of our students and local businesses and industries. Moreover, we now know that our students are succeeding. This brings me great joy and immense hope for our future!

Tony Miksa is president of Walters State Community College.

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