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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Degree programs available through City College, fully online

graphic created by Casey Rafter | Editor in chief ([email protected])

The number of fully online degree pathways available through City College continues to expand, with student demand on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Current online degrees offered include administration of justice, anthropology, business administration, business management, English, history, management information science, sociology and nutrition.   

Kandance Knudson, distance education faculty coordinator at City College, said that before the shutdown, distance learning offerings at City College had steadily increased. She said the rapid move last March to a completely online teaching environment caused by COVID-19 has been difficult for many. 

“[It had] grown to be about 20% of our enrollment. Of course, now it’s almost 100%,” said Knudson. “Faculty are learning pretty well how to adapt.” 

California education law requires courses within a pathway to satisfy certain criteria before City College can offer them through distance education, Knudson said. 

“What they will do is ensure all of those courses in a particular pathway are… approved for being taught in the D.E. environment,” said Knudson. “Then we need to make sure the faculty are trained, we have to make sure their course is high quality, and we need to make sure that it’s offered in semesters that make it accessible for students.” 

According to Albert Garcia, vice president of instructional services, the decision to put courses and programs online is largely made by individual departments. 

“For some disciplines there is a real demand for online offerings,” said Garcia. “There is a whole community of students out there that we can serve better with online options.”   

COVID-19 played a part in encouraging departments to adopt Distance Education pathways, and Garcia predicted that more will be offered “pretty quickly.”   

“There are departments around the college that have been approving their courses for fully online modality just because of the pandemic,” said Garcia. 

Garcia said that in fall semester 2021, City College will join the rest of the district in launching Los Rios Colleges Online, a new effort to “martial resources to offer fully online programs, so that a student could take one of our programs and not ever have to step on campus; not for financial aid, not for admissions and records, not to see a counselor.” 

Nutrition is one of the most recent departments to launch a fully online pathway at City College, receiving distance education approval even before COVID, said nutrition Professor Nadine Kirkpatrick. 

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“It’s the same degree,” said Kirkpatrick. “The standards are not different.” 

Kirkpatrik said that there is a notble learning curve offering students the same education requirements in an online environment. 

“Because it’s online, you have to — as a student — be more disciplined. You have to be the one who is more proactive,” said Kirkpatrick. “I’ve noticed more and more that, online, many students are hesitant to ask questions.” 

However, Kirkpatrick said there are benefits to this approach. 

“It makes it more flexible,” said Kirkpatrick. “There’s so much that can disrupt the flow of life, especially right now. It can’t be underestimated how valuable that is.”

The history department also offers a degree that students can achieve fully online. History Professor and Department Chair Dominic Cerri said the department realized elective courses often struggled with in-person enrollment.

“[They] were being filled when they were online. It just helped to confirm that there is a lot of demand for online courses,” said Cerri. “It makes higher education more available to students. We’re able to offer classes to students that may not have been thinking about college otherwise.” 

According to Cerri, degrees that rely on science-based labs are some of the most difficult to carry over to online-only learning. 

“It’s really hard to replicate that experience in the lab when you’re at home on your computer,” said Cerri. 

However, Cerri believes COVID-19 has increased the demand for online classes among students, though they hadn’t wanted to engage in distance learning before.

“It’s been growing for the last five years at the very least,” said Cerri. “We’re going to see more students now than ever looking for classes available online.”

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