Online program offers extended options for study

Trying to juggle a full-time job while pursuing a college degree has been a typical struggle for Jana Dunn. As an assistant in the Communications Office at Wayland Baptist University, higher education is literally at her fingertips. But being able to pick up enough hours to work around her job was a challenge.

But when she found out that Wayland offers courses through the Internet, her options suddenly expanded. Where she had normally been limited to about 12 hours each semester - composed of night classes in Plainview and on the Lubbock campus - the online offerings enabled Dunn to take three more classes from the convenience of her own home computer. She picked up an additional nine hours toward her degree.

"I didn't know much about Internet classes before this," she said. "I just took them because that way I could fit more hours into my schedule."

A business administration major working toward a bachelor's degree, Dunn found courses that fit into her degree plan and her free time. In most cases, course instructors simply assigned reading, posted notes or lectures online and had regular projects or assignments that could be turned in via email. Like other online enrollees, Dunn could choose when to work on her coursework.

But she's quick to add that though the courses are pretty self-driven, they are not easy classes students could sail through without working.

"I think they can sometimes be harder, because you don't have the benefit of the class discussion and lectures," she said. "You have to dig more on your own."

That ease and convenience is what assures Cari Hamilton that Wayland's online program will continue to grow and succeed. As assistant professor of management information systems and coordinator of the "Virtual Campus," Hamilton said more and more people will be able to work toward a degree - or just learn something new - by taking Wayland's online courses.

"This provides great accessibility for those who need to go back to school or retrain without taking away from their current responsibilities," Hamilton said. "It's also a great opportunity for people in the outlying areas to take college courses without the travel involved. It's college without the commute."

For now, the online offerings mainly include classes in business, vocational education, computers, religion and health care administration, though Hamilton expects the spectrum to widen each year. Courses are primarily undergraduate level, though some graduate classes are offered as well.

Classes online follow the same academic calendar as Wayland's external campuses. The school year is divided into four 11-week quarters: winter, spring, summer, and fall. This gives students the opportunity to pick up more hours each year toward a degree. Cost is also affordable. Undergraduate courses are $130 per credit hour and graduate courses are $155 per hour. The cost of textbooks is additional, but they can be purchased through the University Store.

Registration for the spring semester, which runs February 25 through May 18, is currently underway. To enroll in online courses, students must be enrolled as a Wayland student. Those not currently enrolled may contact the Office of Admissions at (800) 588-1928 or locally at 291-3500 for admissions procedures.