SPRINGFIELD — Enrollment in summer classes at Ozarks Technical Community College increased by 15 percent for 2020 compared to 2019. That’s equivalent to 477 full-time students.
All summer classes, with a few exceptions, were moved online this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight-week summer courses start Monday, June 8.
In the summer of 2019, 90 percent of OTC classes were online, so, the shift to nearly 100 percent online for the summer of 2020 was not a huge change. The move to online courses for summer, even before COVID-19, was driven by student preference as they sought the flexibility of online classes to work, travel and enjoy summer in the Ozarks.
“The college laid the groundwork for remote education years ago when every class at OTC created an online component – even for seated courses,” said Hal Higdon, OTC chancellor. “That preparation paid off when we moved all of our classes online in March.”
OTC’s summer enrollment growth can be tied to two main factors:
1. When students were forced to move online in the spring, many of them realized that they liked online courses and gained confidence in their abilities to excel in web-based classes.
2. Following the COVID-19 shutdown, the college engaged in a calling campaign in which every student was contacted multiple times to make sure they had all of the resources they needed to be successful. Employees from all over the OTC system reached out to nearly 7,500 students. Callers assessed the students’ needs and connected them to resources ranging from tutoring, emergency funds and registration assistance.
Fall courses at all OTC locations start Aug. 24. OTC plans to return to a traditional schedule of in-person and online courses in the fall, but contingency plans are in place if a spike in COVID-19 cases requires the college to again employ social distancing measures.