Springfield colleges accommodate rise in interest for online courses

Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 9:47 PM CDT
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As college courses have shifted more classes to the internet, some schools are seeing a rise in enrollment.

The campus at Ozarks Technical Community College is empty, and will stay that way throughout the summer. But, the school itself is seeing record enrollment in its summer online courses.

Over at Drury, a brand new program will offer online and night school courses to help accommodate more students.

"As of this morning [summer enrollment] was 17% up from last year,which is a phenomenally large percentage increase," said OTC chancellor Hal Higdon.

Higdon said the spike in enrollment has made up for financial losses the college would have felt from state-wide budget cuts.

"That amount of money almost translates dollar for dollar for the amount we're getting extra for summer," he said.

Higdon said a majority of OTC's courses were already online..making the switch to technology driven classes fairly easy.

"The big thing we've heard is 'I was afraid of online. I was forced to do it, and now I like it," he said.

One student, Eden Schweitzer just finished her first semester of courses at the college. Schweitzer said after she had experienced what it was like to take online courses, she was excited to enroll in more.

"Online summer courses, I just jumped all over that," she said. "I was like I love this, I love being able to like review everything twice and really get the grades I really wanted. So, when they said that I was like 'oh my word i'm going to take two."

Ashley Baldwin, another OTC summer student plans to return back to Auburn University in the fall. Baldwin said she is taking a few courses online while she is home for the summer.

"I think the online courses, for the options for the classes that I'm taking is really the reason that I did it," she said.

Baldwin said she liked that the school had added new course options online and how easily the credits transfer.

OTC did offer a large number of grants to students who were forced into online courses due to COVID-19.

Over at Drury, the university is also expanding its virtual classrooms, launching the new Drury-GO Program. The new name, Drury GO, stands for “Global. Online.”

"Our hope with Drury-GO is it makes it easier and less intimidating for students to start their journey and finish their journey with us," said Kimbrea Browning, the Executive Vice President of Enrollment Management for Drury-GO.

The program is a flexible way for students to earn their degree through online courses and night school, focusing on pathways rather than specific majors.

"It gives them the opportunity to earn what they need, get what they need and then come back and continue to stack those on until they achieve their ultimate goal, whether its a bachelors degree, masters degree or as far as they want to go," Browning said.

The program offers more than 40 degrees using the four pathways: Education, Public Service and Safety, Health and Behavior Science and Business, Leadership and Communication.

The new program will begin in the Fall 2020 semester. Students can enroll in the program at any of their satellite campuses around the Ozarks.

Drury is also offering $500 scholarship for students who sign up for nine credit hours or more in their first semester. This scholarship is available to new, transfer and readmitted students.

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