The signs of a poor economy are evident at Truckee Meadows Community College as more and more people are enrolling after being displaced from the workplace. In addition, recent high school graduates see going to college now as a better choice than trying to find a job. This historic trend increased college enrollments due to a slow economy and high unemployment rates has resulted in early registration numbers at the college beating all planned projections. And although this peak may come down a bit, the college expects final enrollment for the fall 2009 semester to increase by double digits. In addition, course-taking patterns show that students are taking more classes, an indicator of full-time attendance. The college has responded to the demand in part with online classes through its WebCollege department.
Currently, TMCC serves more than 12,000 students each semester with programs leading to associate degrees and certificates in more than 50 academic and occupational areas. To serve the increasing number of students, the college offers flexible schedules and class types, including online learning through the TMCC WebCollege. Distance education class offerings and the demand for those classes have increased in recent years. In fall 2001, the college enrolled 824 students in its WebCollege classes. In fall 2008, 5,182 students were enrolled in distant education classes. Currently, 17 percent of the college's enrollment takes academic classes online only, not including students who are enrolled in non-credit training or continuing education classes.
"TMCC is pleased to offer such a wide variety of online courses. This format helps the college expand access by providing more sections of in-demand classes," said Dr. Maria Sheehan, TMCC president.
Online instruction has an added benefit to non-traditional students, in particular those who have earned credits but have not completed their degree, and may be employed full time.
"For these students, enrolling in the one or two classes needed to complete their certificate or degree may be more easily done through online classes," said Fred Lokken, associate dean of WebCollege.
Completing one's education whether online or in person benefits both the individual and the community. For individuals, a degree, certificate or new job skills makes them more competitive in the workplace. For northern Nevada, higher education levels have been shown to increase the quality of life through higher employment rates.
"The benefits of higher education are a win-win for the student and the community. We support our business community by educating and training a globally competitive and diverse workforce. The bottom line is that TMCC is a major economic driver in the local, and regional economy as well as throughout Northern Nevada," said Dr. Jesus "Jess" Carreon, TMCC interim vice president of academic affairs and student services.
Online classes are designed with the same academic rigor as traditional on-site instruction. As a regionally accredited college of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, TMCC offers through its WebCollege department a variety of courses that are fully transferable (online courses are treated the same as traditional courses when being considered for transfer to a four-year institution). Students may pursue the following degrees partially online: associate of arts transfer degree, associate of science transfer degree, associate of general studies degree and the associate of applied science. In addition, the required classes for the certificate of achievement and for the general studies certificate of achievement are available online. Information about the TMCC WebCollege may be found online www.tmcc.edu.
For students who are not looking to earn academic credit but are interested in upgrading their skills, TMCC's Workforce Development and Continuing Education Division (WDCE) offers a wide range of online offerings. WDCE works with a variety of online professional education institutions to offer continuing education classes that begin each month, adding flexibility to a student's schedule.
For example, the college offers online certification classes in green/renewable energy, sustainability, smart home technology, landscaping and garden design, fiber optics, music audio technician and more.
Occupational Spanish courses are offered for a variety of industries, including health care, education and construction. These courses are designed specifically to offer an interactive student-centered learning experience for specific career paths. Other certificate programs are offered in the fields of records management, travel agent, HIPAA compliance, certified bookkeeper, project management and more.
In addition, WDCE offers online certification testing to assist employers in ensuring their employees are adequately prepared for high-skill, high-wage jobs. ACT WorkKeys online assessments and courses are available in applied mathematics, applied technology, business writing, fitness for job, listening, locating information, observation, personal performance, readiness, reading for information, talent and dependability, teamwork and writing. For information on TMCC offerings through its workforce development and continuing education division, please call 775-829-9010 or go online to http://wdce.tmcc.edu.
TMCC continues to offer a variety of academic and continuing education classes each semester. In addition, the college can create customized training for businesses. For information, please call 775-673-7111 or go online to www.tmcc.edu.