Courses in a snap: CCS pilots new winter session

By Emily Landgraf

Each summer, some students spend three weeks taking three hours of class, four days a week. This format is now being offered over winter break, and 52 students in the College of Continuing Studies (CCS) will be taking these intense, compact courses.

The CCS three-week pilot program will take place Jan. 4 to 21 and will offer two courses: Sitcoms and American Culture and Music and Society.

“We decided to propose two courses that we had run in the summer in the same format, and we got the full approval of the Academic Policy Committee,” said Angela Gonzalez Walker, assistant dean of CCS.

Dean of CCS Boris Vilic said that there are no restrictions as to which professors can teach the courses.

“The courses have to be approved to be taught in the three-week format by the appropriate Academic Policy Committee,” he said. “After the course is approved, departments select who will teach the course.”

Gonzalez Walker said the CCS students requested the January courses.

“Because our winter break is so long, our students will inevitably ask us, ‘Do you have anything during the winter break?’” she said.

According to Vilic, there have been courses like this offered before during the break, but they have been travel courses. These pilot classes will be taught at Rider.

Vilic explained that the reason CCS is piloting these courses over winter break is to help students earn a degree faster in order to be more successful in today’s shaky economy.

“So many of our students find themselves unable to be more competitive in the job market because they don’t have a degree,” Vilic said. “They’re utilizing this to graduate earlier.”

The typical CCS student, according to Vilic, is about 34 years old and works full time. Approximately 70 percent of CCS students are females.

“Our main population is students [who] have not completed their undergraduate degree,” said Gonzalez Walker.

Because the majority of CCS students go to school part time, they are still allowed to take five courses in the spring semester if they take one of the three-week courses. According to Vilic, this is an issue of student advisement.

“We work very closely with all of our students to determine a course load that will not prevent them from succeeding,” he said. “Depending on a student’s work schedule and family commitments, the course load may range significantly.”

Janice Smith, a CCS student who took a three-week course in the summer, had a positive experience and said it was very convenient.

“It was very interesting and engaging,” she said. “Everything was very fast, so it kept you on your feet because of the intensity of the course.”

Video Technologies Coordinator and Communication and Journalism Department adjunct instructor Scott Alboum will be teaching one of the two sections of Sitcoms and American Culture offered.

“The reasons I wanted to teach it were that I had taught it before [over the summer online], and, unlike other professors, I work here in January and [the class is] at night,” he said. “I thought it would be a pretty cool thing to do to make the month go by pretty fast.”

Alboum has taught classes with CCS students before and said that the biggest difference is that most are not full-time students.

“You have different issues and problems to deal with,” he said. “Most people work full time, have dinner, come to class.”

Although the class will be taught in a very condensed period, Alboum believes it will be enjoyable.

“It’s pretty intense,” he said. “But the subject matter is really interesting and people can relate to it.”

Junior Brynne Fenster took a communication course over the summer.

“At first I was a little skeptical because it was only a three- week class,” she said. “We had to do everything that normally would have been done in a semester in three weeks, which made me really nervous. After a few classes, I started to feel better about it and I ended up really liking it.”

Vilic believes that the pilot courses will help CCS students. He cited the example of a woman who was working in an Acme deli. She earned her degree at Rider through CCS, and is now the CFO of a Fortune 500 company.

“Many of our alumni who cannot get promotions at their jobs come here, earn a Rider degree and do phenomenally well,” he said. “It’s really helping them realize their career aspirations.”

Fenster also believes that the courses are valuable.

“Overall, I really enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it,” she said. “Although at first it can be very overwhelming and stressful, it really is worth it.”

This January’s courses have been filled primarily by CCS students, though a few undergraduates in special circumstances were able to enroll.
According to both Vilic and Gonzalez Walker, the pilot will be evaluated through feedback from students and professors to see if CCS will continue offering the three-week courses.

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