More than 20 students are taking advantage of a "mini semester" at Washington State Community College to start or resume their college careers or earn a few additional credits.
Some of the 22 students are taking multiple classes among the six offerings, giving the school an additional 65 registrations. It's not enough to alter the reduced budget recently adopted by trustees, but it appears to be a success in other ways, administrators said.
"I'm just glad we continued to put together new ways to (provide) educational entry points for students," said John Tigue, vice president for academic affairs.
As the college made the state-mandated transition from quarters to semesters, the mini semester was seen as a way to give students who missed the earlier registration period an opportunity to still take classes and boost declining enrollment numbers that led the board of trustees to amend the budget to address a projected $1.5 million deficit.
"Some students, for whatever reason, they may be working, life is happening to them, and they may say, 'Gee, I wish I could have started in August,'" Tigue said.
Although the mini semester will last eight weeks compared to the full semester's 16, Tigue said students would still spend the same amount of time in the classroom. To get three hours of course credit, there must be 2,250 minutes of instruction.
"So a class might meet six hours a week instead of three hours a week," Tigue said.
Speech and theater instructor David Paige usually teaches a speech course one night a week, but his mini semester class is meeting twice a week for about two hours each time.
"It's working out really well. It's concentrated. We get all the time in," he said.
There are 15 students in Paige's class, and they're all motivated and enthusiastic, he said. He thinks that may have something to do with the condensed and more concentrated schedule.
"It's like a stew instead of a soup," he said.
Marietta resident Ferhat Lamraoui, a mechanical engineer originally from Algeria, is taking Paige's class to improve his English skills.
"I thought it would be a very helpful class, and it is very helpful," he said.
The class, and another mini semester offering on PC applications are Lamraoui's first at Washington State.
The classes chosen for the mini semester also include health and business-related subjects, "courses that we think students across the board would be interested in," Tigue said. For the spring mini semester, a student survey is being considered to see which courses might draw the most interest, he said.
Paige said he'd be happy to teach in the spring mini semester as well.
"I'm having a really good experience with it," he said.
The mini semester is one approach Washington State is using to increase enrollment in a way that works for students while also benefiting the school, Tigue said. Next up is a winter intersession being conducted entirely online.The session will coincide with many schools' winter breaks, so students attending other institutions could work in some additional course credit over that time, Tigue said.