As the Orange Coast College fall semester draws to a close and the student body breathes a collective sigh of relief, it is also time for students to look ahead and ask themselves, “what’s next?” Many still have another semester ahead of them until they can take the necessary steps to transfer. Others are just beginning their college journey in the midst of a pandemic.
Students who are at the beginning, middle or the end of the road at OCC can be confident that the college will continue to offer the same amount of courses and programs that it did before the campus had to switch to primarily virtual education.
OCC faculty and deans have worked overtime to reconfigure and become “Zoom ready.”
“The deans and the faculty have come up with a very robust schedule for the spring semester,” said Pam Walker, OCC interim vice president of instruction. “You will not see it deter much from a regular spring semester except that it’s going to be primarily online.”
Despite the fact that a majority of students are at home diligently attending their classes via Zoom and managing to motivate themselves in the online format, there are actually some classes currently taking place on campus, including those in the health field and career training programs like construction.
The Zoom format offers some advantages. Although in-person instruction is better for some students, the campus commute and time constraints can be a barrier.
Due to these unprecedented times, OCC has now become a part of the Online Ed Initiative (OEI), which allows students at participating colleges to cross enroll among member campuses.
“It’s very exciting because it gives our faculty the opportunity to cross-list their courses with OEI, so it might give students an opportunity from Mendocino, or Siskiyous or Shasta an opportunity to take one of our online courses and there’s a little bit of diversity of experiences when that happens,” said Walker.
According to the California Community Colleges website, the OEI is a collaborative effort among participating colleges that seeks to help more students fulfill their educational goals by increasing access to and quality of online courses.
There are currently 53 California community colleges participating in the CVC-OEI initiative, among them are OCC and Coastline College from the Coast Community College District. OCC students can now take a look at a special catalog of online classes available from community colleges as near as Santa Ana and as far as San Francisco.
Another benefit that will continue to be offered in the spring semester at OCC is a whole section of zero-cost textbook courses listed in the spring schedule under the link “zero-cost textbook class”.
“I’m recommending that students look at what their enrollment time is and that they don’t waste time, because we have a lot of students wanting particular classes and they’re going to fill up,” said Dr. Renee DeLong, the director of academic counseling at OCC.
Although it is a unique and challenging time to be in college, there are also some unique opportunities. In addition to the more than 150 career and technical education programs that OCC currently offers, there are a couple new programs set to launch in the spring. A new eSports program is in the works as well as a health coaching program that will start up in the spring.
“Years ago, people got involved in international relations because of the stuff that was happening in the Middle East and they wanted to be a part of something. Students were more interested in international relations, political science and international business because there were a lot of things going on in that area,” Walker said. “Now I see this as a more national movement that could happen because of this pandemic, and more people may be interested in looking at medicine or health-related issues, or looking at language issues that could help with health-related issues. We could provide a lot of opportunities at OCC.”