All College Day, an annual event designed to inform and energize faculty and staff members before the start of the new school year, included subjects of interest to students as well. What follows is a wrap-up of some of the topics from the Aug. 18 event that current and future students may find useful or interesting. Click a link below or scroll through for more information.
Degree and Certificate Programming
The college continues to review its degree and certificate offerings so that it meets current and future student needs. The district’s strategic plan calls for the expansion of career and technical programs in line with the regional labor market, so that today’s students can find a well-paying, long-term occupation when they graduate.
To that end, the district engaged a firm to determine the area’s current and future workforce needs. The firm identified that the average monthly demand for jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree was highest in jobs in distribution and logistics, health care, finance and business services, digital technologies, manufacturing and construction/energy occupations. Executive Vice President Dr. Brenda Kihl said these focus areas will guide the college’s workforce program development.
Using the list of high-demand industries, Collin administrators and faculty identified 40 non-bachelor-level programs for potential development that would provide students opportunities to gain skills to enter the workforce quickly.
“Of those (40 programs), we tried to prioritize which ones to attack first,” Dr. Kihl said. “Some programs are going to take a lot longer to develop. Some are going to need specialized facilities, and as we are planning buildings, we need to be sure necessary facilities are available for those programs.”
New associate of applied sciences degrees in diagnostic medical sonography, supply chain management, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), welding and welding technology will be introduced for 2017-2018. The college will also offer new certificates, including foundry and metalworking, CADD (computer aided design and drafting), HVAC, human resource management, logistics and purchasing, and welding.
Future programs being developed include: accounting/bookkeeping, automotive, a bachelor of science in nursing, construction management, construction trades (carpentry, electrician, plumbing), financial services and manufacturing (machinist, mechatronics).
Many factors other than market demand are considered before developing new programs.
“We have to look at whether there are jobs in Collin County and verify that the data is accurate,” Dr. Kihl said. “It is also important that programs will result in a viable living wage for our students when they graduate.”
Hard Stop Registration Date
The college recently implemented a registration date change that requires students registering for 16-week (full semester) courses to do so by the fourth day of the semester. In the case of this fall, that date fell on Aug. 31. For spring, the date will be Jan. 19.
The primary purpose of the hard stop is to help facilitate student success. Being present at the start of the term, whether in class or online, increases the student’s opportunities for success in the course.
According to Dr. Sherry Schumann, senior vice president for academic, workforce and enrollment services, the move should also mean less wait time for students, because an in-person process has moved online.
“Students can now register fully online up to the hard stop deadline,” she said in her All College Day remarks. “In the past, (students) have done that for the first two days of the term and had to come to campus for the next two.
“We had been driving students to lines on campus and we have been able to reduce the reasons a student would need to come to campus during the registration process.”
Dr. Schumann also noted the changes to the career services offered by the college. The district is opening career centers at each major campus and the Courtyard Center. The career centers will have a similar look and feel across campuses and will be close to the center of the campus.
The centers will offer tools like mock job interviews, job search coaching and tools, résumé assistance, employability skills training, career interest assessments and career coaches who will work one on one with students. The idea is to provide answers for students who may be at a crossroads when determining what they want to study and what career to pursue after college.
“A lot of our students come from the community and aren’t sure if they need a credit or non-credit course and may have limits to the amount of time they can enroll in classes before they must return to work,” Dr. Schumann said.
The administration believes the centers will help them answer those questions. Learn more about the career centers at https://www.collin.edu/studentresources/career/.
Website and Mobile Changes
Looking forward, two projects will provide current and potential students with useful tools to plan their day-to-day and broader college experiences
Collin.edu, the college’s website, is primarily an external marketing tool to provide information to the community and potential students. However, with information on events and news affecting both current and future students, it can be a communication tool with multiple audiences.
The college is working to make the website more inviting and useful for all audiences. Changes include making the website mobile-friendly, with concise and useful information, in addition to aesthetic changes that will make exploring the site a more pleasant experience.
Tom Delamater, the district’s chief public relations officer, shared images of the proposed design to applause from the audience. The redesign is currently underway, with implementation planned this year.
Once students are on campus, CougarWeb provides tools for getting the most out of their educational communication. However, a new student-facing app, currently in development by the college, will make accessing information and keeping track of student needs easier.
Mark Garcia, dean of strategic initiatives, generated some buzz when he presented an early look at the app.
Garcia started by noting that Collin already has an app. The hybrid app – partially web-based and partially built on a mobile platform – is not consistently mobile-friendly and does not take advantage of new or emerging technologies. Building on focus group information, app comparisons and trend assessment, Garcia is confident Collin College can do it better. Sharing a demo version, he walked through the proposed app’s attributes.
Students will be able receive notifications for things like account holds, payment due dates, reminders to register for classes, etc. The students may be able to respond to or resolve those notifications by uploading or capturing documentation using the student’s phone.
A dashboard is designed to tell students what they can expect from their day at Collin, including an up-to-date calendar with pertinent schedules and events of interest, like theatre performances or sporting events. Information nested within that area will include things like hours of operation and walking directions to class.
The app will provide driving time to a location and crowd-sourced parking information, giving students using the app an idea of parking availability. The app will integrate CougarQ, making it is easier for students to see what their projected wait time is for advising and registration services, and reserve a spot before leaving the house.
Students will be able to pull down details from each class, allowing them to get in touch with the professor or determine what textbook they will need. It may even allow the student to search library availability and reserve a copy.
Up-to-date admissions checklists will help students keep track of financial aid – grants, scholarships and loans – and whether the process requires any additional information. A degrees and certificates area of the app will help students track their academic progress, showing what is completed, what is in progress and what courses remain.
A personalized tasks area will help students track projects or individual tasks for the day.
And CougarBot, an automated chat bot that uses deep machine learning, will assist students with basic information on a variety of topics. The bot will learn as it is used.
The app is currently in development and a release date was not given.