Golden West College vice president of student services Claudia Lee spent most of the first day of school Monday helping students. And, since most of the students have spent the past 17 months off campus, Lee was happy to be so involved.
“It was very busy, which is incredible,” Lee said on Monday. “Teachers, we thrive through personal interaction. I mean, that’s why we’re here. We love the energy we get from students, the vibrancy of the campus.
Golden West College, most of its programs of which were strictly online last year, returned on Monday with a hybrid system in place. The junior college offers on-campus courses and fully online courses. There is also an option called the “live online” classroom, where students log into Zoom at certain times to interact with their teachers and classmates.
Flexibility is key as the college opens the 2021-22 school year, Lee said, with around 30% of classes being taught on campus. Golden West uses the Signal Line messaging platform which gives students personalized online answers to their questions.
“What we are able to do, because we ask them from the start for their student card and certain personal information, gives them very personalized answers based on the data we have in our system,” he said. she declared. “If a student were to type, for example, ‘What is my GPA? He would spit it out. This is quite unique, as it really eliminates their need to wait to speak to a real human being. ”
Lee said the weekly personalized text messages are also a key part of the school’s approach. Students can respond to the text with unrelated questions, which will be forwarded to the right person, or they can ask questions in the GWC app on their smartphone.
The college has more than 10,000 students enrolled for the fall, Lee said. Of these, about 3,400 have at least one classroom on campus – the school calls it “ground” – class. As a bonus for those who choose to return to campus, the school has waived parking fees for the fall semester.
“A college campus without students is just one place,” said Golden West College president Tim McGrath. “When you have students, you just feel the excitement. We do magic every August when new students come in and their educational career is introduced to them, and there is enthusiasm for what they can do. High school or what they were doing is over, and it’s a whole new day … In the last  months, seeing the top of you on Zoom is just not the same as being able to be in the classroom and share. It just makes a huge difference.
Golden West is one of three campuses in the Coast Community College District, which also includes Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa and Coastline College in Fountain Valley, which has adopted policies for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Students must wear masks indoors and will be asked by October 1 to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
Meridith Randall, vice president of education at Golden West College, said student performance did not decline in the 2020-21 year. This despite the fact that education was mostly online only, with the exception of programs like nursing, police academy, and car lessons.
She said the student success rate – the percentage of students who received a “C” grade or better – has remained at around 72% college-wide. The college awarded 6,468 diplomas and certificates last year.
“We might have had fewer students and they were all online, but we always had the same level of student achievement,” Randall said.
As she walked through the center of campus on Monday, she commented on how great it was to see students on campus again.
“They all like to wear masks, which is wonderful,” she added.
The Rustlers’ athletic programs are also gearing up for success. Athletic director Danny Johnson said they had been training on campus since last October, but expected a full schedule this school year across the board, down from around 70% last season. Student-athletes who are on campus have many resources available to them, including a full-time academic advisor and tutoring available to them at the Student-Athlete Success Center.
Rachel Miller, a sophomore outdoor hitter on the women’s volleyball team, said she was excited to travel across campus on Monday to attend her microeconomics class. It wasn’t exactly such a special day for two teammates, libero Dallas Smulson and passer Kate Griffin, who said all of their classes are online for this fall semester.
Allison Thai, a freshman freshman from Fountain Valley High School, was on campus Monday. Earlier this afternoon, Thai said she had already taken her microeconomics and business computing classes.
Thai said she chose to stick with online classes only for her senior year at Fountain Valley High, but changed them to college.
“I realized that I didn’t learn much when I was online, because I get very easily distracted,” she said. “Especially for math, I needed it in person to be more focused… It’s great. I was able to talk to people around the table in my classroom. It was easier for me to communicate with people, to talk to them, to get their numbers.
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