Colorado Mountain College (CMC) is slowly and carefully navigating the rough waters of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
To help students figure out what’s going on, CMC has issued a Fall 2020 Trail Map loaded with detailed information and guidelines. It’s going to be a mixed bag of online and in person classes, depending on the specific curriculum.
After a productive summer session of distance learning, the college is poised to tackle the upcoming fall semester beginning Aug. 24 and running through Dec. 11. Registration is already underway and goes until Aug. 23.
As Dr. Carrie Hauser, CMC president and CEO, said, “Our focus is on providing the high quality, personalized and affordable education our communities have come to expect while doing everything we can to maintain a safe learning environment.”
In this strange, new set of circumstances brought on by COVID-19, CMC took the unprecedented step of offering free tuition, books and fees for students enrolled in the summer session who were in-district and in-state students, plus district employees recently displaced by public health orders. The move was kick-started by the $1.6 million the college expected to receive in federal stimulus funds.
This follows on the heels of the huge jump in summer session enrollment. Hauser reported, “We were up 66 percent over last year. This year, most summer students lived nearby.”
“Our goal was to keep local students in their own communities,” Hauser continued. And it worked.
Many students opted to make the most of the opportunity by taking extra classes during the stay-at-home state orders, saving money and possibly shortening the time needed to graduate. With the 2020 fall session beginning at the end of August, CMC has developed a hybrid combination of three learning environments.
Flex courses will have a specific class schedule with online video conferencing technology like Webex or Zoom. Some courses may have optional face-to-face aspects for small group discussions and projects.
Next, the In-Person category will apply to courses that cannot be delivered remotely, like veterinary technician, the Police Academy and outdoor education, always following enhanced social distancing and safety guidelines. Parts of these curriculums will incorporate distance learning, but students must be physically present when required.
Online Anytime will mean just that. In-person attendance is not required, and the course will not have a specific videoconferencing schedule. However, students are expected to follow the syllabus guidelines for completing the homework in the time frame presented.
CMC Vice-President of Student Affairs Shane Larson handles the three campuses with residential facilities: Spring Valley, Steamboat Springs and Leadville.
“This year we will have reduced capacity to about 60 to 70 percent with mostly single rooms with some doubles,” Larson explained.
Asked how available housing slots will be prioritized, Larson said that students enrolled in the in-person courses will have first pick, and CMC will waive the requirement that new students live on campus. Meals for students living in on-campus housing will initially be only grab and go meals as dining rooms stay closed.
The cost of higher education, which impacts just about everyone, has also sparked renewed interest in scholarships. Hauser described the CMC scholarship options :“The President’s Scholarship is available for new students who have graduated from an in-district high school in the past four years.”
To make sure that all those eligible know about this program, Hauser announced that each graduate received a letter explaining the opportunity to help cover tuition costs. In addition, Hauser directed students to also apply to the CMC Foundation where, “You are likely eligible for more scholarships.”
“Every year we award over $700,000 to CMC students. When you couple foundation scholarships with the President’s Scholarship, you may have the opportunity to attend CMC at little or no cost.” she added. “The President’s Scholarship can only be used for tuition, whereas many of the scholarships from the foundation can be used for tuition, books, fees and campus housing.”
Plus, the United State Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid has provided more than $120 billion in financial aid to those eligible to help pay for college or career school each year. Go to studentaid.gov to apply.