From “MSTC mid-semester classes start Feb. 10” — Mid-State Technical College is offering a series of “late start” online courses, beginning Feb. 10, for individuals interested in taking a class but are unsure they want to wait until the beginning of next semester.

Available courses include Business Law & Ethics, Developmental Psychology, Intro to Business, Intro to Psychology, Intro to Sociology, Introductory Statistics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Oral/Interpersonal Communication, Principles of Management and Written Communication.

MSTC is encouraging people to register for courses by Feb. 5. Individual classes are subject to cancellation if they have low enrollment. To learn more, call 1-888-575-MSTC (6782), visit or stop by campuses in Stevens Point, Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids or the county center in Adams. Individuals previously enrolled at MSTC can register online through MyMSTC.

From “Column: New programs coming to MSTC” — By Dr. Sue Budjac, president of Midstate Technical College

Sue Budjac

 Sue Budjac

August marks the start of Mid-State Technical College’s fall semester. Our hallways, classrooms and labs soon will be full of students eager to develop the skills they need to succeed in the local workforce. I extend an enthusiastic welcome to all of our new and returning students.

MSTC continuously evaluates our range of career programs and certificates to ensure our college is meeting the demands of local business and industry. This proactive approach provides MSTC with the necessary information to make changes and add new offerings as emerging workforce needs are identified.

Before a program is approved, MSTC interviews a variety of stakeholders to establish essential skills and knowledge. We also confirm the readiness of local employers to hire our graduates. Additionally, each MSTC program taps into industry experts through an advisory committee of local employers and employees; their valued feedback is one of many catalysts that sustain high quality and innovation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social/human service assistants is expected to grow 28 percent from 2010-20, faster than average for all occupations. MSTC addressed this rapidly growing need with a new Gerontology Associate Degree at our Stevens Point Campus that provides students with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience necessary to enter the job market or enhance their existing careers.

MSTC also will offer three new technical diplomas and certificates this year. The Stainless Steel Welding Basics, or GTAW, Certificate is offered at our Marshfield Campus in a new state-of-the-art stainless steel welding lab. The Taxation Accounting Certificate helps students become familiar with rules and law and experience practical application through hands-on learning, and will be available at all MSTC locations. Barber Technologist Technical Diploma classes are offered two nights a week at our Wisconsin Rapids Campus with supplemental work online. Students perfect their skills in our on-campus salon that is open to the public.

Our responsiveness to industry needs ensures that our career programs and certificates remain relevant to changing workforce needs. Constant assessment through advisory committees ensures that curriculum remains up to date and our classes and programs produce the hands-on skills and real-world knowledge employers desire in the people they hire. Our graduates subsequently have the tools they need to succeed.

With more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates to choose from, MSTC has something for nearly every career passion and unique interest. Simply to apply or pick up an application at your nearest MSTC campus office. Fall semester starts Aug. 19, and there is still time to register. For more information, call us at 888-575-MSTC or stop by the MSTC location nearest you.

From “NTC online learning celebrates milestone” — Northcentral Technical College in Wausau is celebrating a milestone.

This month marks the first anniversary of a program allowing students to study online.

School officials say 100 students are enrolled so far. And they anticipate it will keep growing.

Earning a college degree online is nothing new. But a program at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau offers a different approach than others.

“There’s no confined assignment date for all the classes,” said NTC Vice President for Learning, Shelly Mondeik. That date doesn’t come until the end of the semester.

School officials say it’s NTC’s most flexible learning option.

“Lets say they have a child that is ill or something comes up and they have to go out of town for two weeks, they’re not penalized at all they basically can continue at their pace so they can actually finish a course in four weeks or they could take 16 weeks,” said Mondeik.

Katherine Welk is a virtual college student at NTC. She’s been enrolled three semesters, working toward an Associate’s Degree in Supervisory Management. Welk says this program is making that happen.

“I’m a stay at home mom and I know I need to have a degree to be able to provide for them so when I saw that NTC had their virtual college program that was great for me,” said NTC virtual college student, Katherine Welk.

The program was launched last February. School officials say it’s come a long way.

“We’re going to be having our first year anniversary, we actually started this last February where we offered a general studies certificate and now of course we actually have 6 Associate Degree programs in it, we’re very excited,” said Mondiek.

Even though it’s all online, Welk says she’s grown in the virtual classroom as well.

“It’s a really good environment, I don’t know, I just love it,” said Welk.

Going at her own pace is what drew Welk to this program. She hopes to continue her success, as just two more semesters stand between her and her degree.

College officials say they hope to have 150 students enrolled in the program by the end of the semester.

From “Area colleges plan for rise in online enrollment” — Local college students are gearing up to write papers and take exams, but not all of them will head back to campus.

Instead, many will complete coursework outside the classroom. The percentage of courses taken online at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College by students seeking technical diplomas or associate degrees increased from 13.26 percent in 2007-08 to nearly 18 percent last year.

“We can see clearly there’s been an interest on the customer side,” said Anne Kamps, director of learning support services for NWTC. “But quality is also important. We wouldn’t do it, if we couldn’t provide the quality without the rigor, quality and content as face-to-face.”

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and St. Norbert College also provide Internet options and administrators say they’re planning for growth in online coursework.

NWTC has been offering online options for about 12 years, and Kamps said classes began in general education and business classes. Each department had a representative involved from the beginning, she said.

In 2007-08, about 8,733 courses out of 65,868 for technical diploma and associate degree students at NWTC were taken online. Last year, 14,146 courses out of 78,700 were Internet based. That means the number of online courses taken increased by 62 percent in five years, while the overall number of courses increased by 19.5 percent in that period.

Since 2002, students taking online courses are mostly female, she said — 71 percent, compared with 29 percent male. Those taking traditional classroom courses are 54 percent women and 46 percent men, Kamps said.

Those who enroll in online courses tend to be older returning students, Kamps said. It usually takes people a little more than 12½ years after graduating high school to sign up for online coursework, compared with 8.4 years after high school to go back to traditional college courses.

Students participate both full and part time, she said, depending on the amount of financial aid they receive or life or work needs.

Online courses also save money and travel time for many students who live outside Brown County, she said.

Expansion “sure makes sense,” Kamps said. “We’re thinking about,‘Which programs and courses should we be looking at? What tools are available?’ We want to make sure we can deliver all that makes sense.”

Web conferencing programs, similar to Skype, likely will be expanded as a way to make online classes more engaging, she said.

“Could we make it even more visual?” Kamps said. “We’re always looking at new ways to promote learning.”

Many of UW-Green Bay’s older returning students prefer online coursework, said Christina Trombley, director of the university’s adult degree program.

“They may have full-time jobs, have families, be caretakers and be very active in the community,” she said. “This is a very accessible way to get education.”

She said the majority of of UW-Green Bay’s adult degree students take some or most classes online. The program offers 85 online classes this fall — some are completely online while others incorporate some classroom time. They may also take online classes.

Interactive or web-conferencing classes are available, she said.But most classes are completely online, she said.

She said the demographics of returning students is getting younger.

“Students used to be in their 40s and 50s,” Trombley said. “We still get those, but the age count is lower. We’re seeing students who are a year or two our of getting an associates, all the way up.”

She expects the popularity of online classes to continue.

“We’re showing that by 2020 returning adults could outpace traditional students,” she said. “And returning students want online classes.”

When it comes to online learning, St. Norbert College offers mostly blended classes — a mix of face-to-face instruction and online work.

The private college has a digital learning initiativestaskforce and is studying ways to incorporate online options, said Bridget Krage O’Connor, vice president for enrollment management and communications.

“In general, more classes will be blended,” she said. “That is going to be the future.”

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