NCCC launching adult learning program

SARANAC LAKE — North Country Community College is launching two new online learning programs for adults to get associate degrees at their own pace.

“One is in business administration, and one is in liberal arts,” said Alex Parnia, interim vice president of enrollment management at NCCC. “And both of them are put in place to accommodate working adults.”

The courses will be offered in seven-and-a-half-week formats instead of a more typical 15-week semester schedule.

“That’s another flexibility that the college has created to make this program adaptable to the life of the working adult,” Parnia said. “Now if someone wants to slow down, it’s up to them.”

Or speed up. Parnia said, for instance, a student could take two courses every seven-and-a-half-week interval and earn enough credits for an associate degree in 20 months. (Correction: An earlier version of this article accidentally said 20 weeks instead of 20 months.) Typically, an associate degree would take about two years. He said the class sizes will be between 16 and 22 students.

“The first group expected is May 20,” Parnia said, “but we are expecting a larger group in fall. Another thing about this is students don’t have to wait for the registration day to come and register. If they qualify to be in the program and they meet all the requirements this college has, then they certainly can enroll.”

The baseline requirement for enrollment is a high school diploma, or GED.

In addition to its at-your-own-pace benefits, the online program comes with the traditional cost savings and smaller class sizes of NCCC compared to four-year institutions. The average cost of in-state tuition for the 2017-18 academic year is around $19,000, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

For in-state students, tuition at NCCC runs around $7,000 for a full-time student in the 2018-19 academic year.

Parnia said he is certain the program will help the college’s enrollment numbers, which were at 940 full-time equivalencies at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year.

“It remains to be seen how many people will sign up, but it’s certainly going to help the enrollment,” Parnia said. “The reason for that is … more and more people, they need to go back to school.”

That’s because more and more entry-level positions now require college degrees, Parnia said. However, once getting a degree, a person often has the ability to work from home. An example Parnia gave was working as an editor to proofread copy.

“There are a lot of options like that developing, but you need to educate the public that opportunities are out there, but you require skills,” Parnia said. “Those skills can only come from getting the college degree.”

NCCC Professor Bruce Rowe will speak at the Lake Placid Public Library at 5:30 p.m. on April 23 about the importance of high education and the college’s online programs.

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