Friday, August 19, 2011

Local College Holds Virtual Ribbon Cutting; New High-Tech Campus

A virtual ribbon was cut by South Texas College administrators, officially launching the college’s sixth state-of-the art campus in early August. Although the new virtual campus doesn’t feature beautiful green spaces or ambitious new architecture, what it does offer is something equally exciting and fitting for a new digital age. STC’s newest campus is one of the edgiest of its kind because it is an online virtual campus

STC’s new eSTC Virtual Campus went live August 9, allowing the college’s over 30,000 students to enroll in one of more than 500 course sections toward earning one of 15 degrees and five certificates - available to earn all online.

“The dawn of the Internet in daily life more than two decades ago meant the advent of a new era in the way we live and work; it has transformed every facet of our lives,” explained STC President Shirley A. Reed. “In a brave move that few colleges have dared to take, we are offering every service available to our traditional campus students - all online.”

Not only will students have access to a wide catalog of course offerings, they will also have access to online library services, admissions, advising, payment services, financial aid, bookstore and testing. An online chat function allows students to ask questions of Student Affairs Division staff. This is in addition to the existing ability to chat live with instructors and participate in group discussion boards.

“We have added a variety of exciting functionality to make the campus a place for students, faculty and staff to connect, just as they would in person at any of our five physical campus locations,” Reed added. “Students will rarely, and in some cases never, have to set foot on a traditional campus, but they will still feel the connection and opportunity of any other student. Our online students will also have access to all the free campus services and activities they choose including clubs, intramural sports, art shows, guest lecturers or free tutoring, just to name a few.”

STC has been offering distance education courses for 14 years, time that has provided the college the chance to perfect its online education model and tailor it to the needs of its students. Student feedback shows that success is possible for the dedicated student.

“It’s been really convenient taking online classes; that’s really the perfect word for it,” said 25 year old STC student Sheena Faulkner. “I have earned somewhere between 30 and 40 credit hours all online at STC and I have been able to make my studies fit my schedule. I can study at my own pace, which I believe has helped me earn better grades and that’s really important because I plan to transfer to Texas A&M Kingsville to study animal science and one day become a veterinarian. I can do my class work at 1 a.m. if I need to and sometimes I have to because I work to pay my way through college. Also, I live 25 miles from the nearest campus and in this economy, taking online classes has saved me a lot of gas money. I know students like me will really appreciate all the convenience the eSTC Virtual Campus has to offer.”

The college has expanded its all-online degree offerings to include associate degrees in anthropology, business administration, criminal justice, English, human resources specialist, interdisciplinary studies, language and cultural studies – Spanish concentration, Mexican-American studies, psychology, social work, sociology, teaching and technology management. Additionally, students may elect to earn certificates in management or marketing, or that prepare them for being an accounting clerk, computer applications specialist or human resources assistant.

“During the spring 2011 semester, we served over 5,000 students through our online courses and by the year 2020, we expect to serve more than 10,000 students through eSTC,” said Juan E. Mejia, STC vice president for academic affairs. “We are focused on meeting the needs of every student, from stay-at-home parents, to professionals who are employed, to those in the military stationed abroad, and the many students who have embraced technology and wish to complete their degree from home. Students can expect the same academic rigor that they have come to expect and appreciate from our traditional courses. The difference is that with eSTC we are eliminating time and distance barriers and making education more affordable and flexible than ever.”

For additional information about STC’s eSTC Virtual Campus visit or call 956-872-2598.

Photo caption:
Thousands more future and current STC students like Sheena Faulkner will benefit from the convenience of STC’s new eSTC Virtual Campus.

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