Three weeks. Three credits. WSU Online is offering its second winter session, allowing students to pack an entire course into their Winter Breaks.
The session runs from Dec. 17 to Jan. 8 and offers all WSU students the chance to take lower-level courses such as Communication 101 and General Education 111 as well as some upper-division courses. Enrollment for winter session opens Monday.
Dave Cillay, executive director for the Center for Distance and Professional Education, said the idea for a winter session came from other universities that had something similar. Last year’s winter session was a trial run, offering five courses to on-campus students only. At the end of the session, the majority of the students had gotten a C-plus grade or higher, Cillay said.
“The student performance was outstanding,” he said.
Faculty members were initially skeptical about the idea, Cillay said. However, after seeing the student performance during the session, most of them lost their uncertainty.
Associate professor of anthropology Nancy McKee said she originally thought the winter session was a bad idea, and only agreed to teach a course for the extra money. She said she was surprised when her students produced the same quality of work as she saw in her on-campus classes.
“The student performance, I really did notice that it was different,” McKee said. “They did a much better job than I expected them too.”
Cillay said students who choose to participate in the winter session need to understand the expectations.
“Understand it will eat up most of your day, every day,” Cillay said. “Take it seriously.”
For many students, the winter session is more than just a chance to be one class ahead in their degree. For Burl Battersby, a WSU Online student living in Seattle, taking a winter session course will allow him to graduate this spring, instead of waiting until next fall.
“I would really like to get my diploma in May when a large number of other students would also be doing it,” Battersby said. “I do plan on coming to Pullman to get my diploma.”
Battersby has been working in the hospitality business for 25 years but wanted to get a degree in humanities and teach at a college level, a dream he’s had since high school. WSU Online provided the perfect opportunity for him to fulfill his goal.
“I had been taking night classes for several years and had intended to continue my education that way, but when I found out about the WSU Online degree program, I realized that was a great opportunity to get my degree from a university that had a good reputation without having to spend all my evenings away from the house,” Battersby said.
Battersby exemplifies the majority of WSU Online students. Cillay said most WSU Online students won’t attend a physical campus. They might be full-time working parents, they really want to be a Cougar but don’t want to leave their community or they’re an older student who is coming back for more education.
“What makes WSU Online unique is that it’s Washington State University,” Cillay said. “The same type of education that they would get on campus is transferred to that online environment.”