Mesa’s E-Learning program was ranked first in Arizona among two-year colleges. The ranking, by Accredited Schools Online (ASO), is a resource database for students to find an online program that best suits them. ASO used a variety of criteria to assess Mesa’s program, and how it stacks up with other two-year colleges both in the state, and around the nation. These include but are not limited to: the number of programs and subject areas offered, student-to-faculty ratio, percentage of students, and a peer-based evaluation. MCC received a final score of 98.83, just 0.03 percentage points ahead of second-ranked Yavapai College.
“At Mesa Community College, students can earn one of a long list of online associate degrees or certificate of completions,” ASO said of MCC’s program on their website. “Students can attend class at any time, from any location as long as they have an internet connection…and students have access to a wide range of support resources including online orientation, a help center, online tutoring and an online library.” Approved to provide 100 percent of the institutions programs online in March 2013, the school offers 47 degrees and certificates, and of those 47, 24 are full degrees.
Taking into consideration how healthy the student-to-teacher ratio is at 19:1 combined with a cost friendly price of $84 per credit hour, the reaction of Laura Ballard, the director of the E-Learning program at MCC, wasn’t surprise after Mesa was informed of their place in the rankings. “I wasn’t surprised that we received the accolade,” Ballard said. “Our college employees have worked diligently to ensure we continually assess our E-Learning program and make improvements.”
Currently, Mesa offers three different types of E-Learning classes: online classes conducted exclusively on the internet that may or may not include proctored exams, hybrid courses that blend face-to-face “seat time” with online assignments, and web-enhanced courses which are in person lecture classes designed to include internet tools. Chelsea Taylor is an online student at MCC. As a stay-at-home mom with four kids, traditional classes that require time commitments weren’t going to work for her. As a result, taking classes online were the best and only option.
“I’ve had a great experience at MCC,” Taylor said. “The professors are always incredibly helpful and responsive. I still feel connected to a school community.” Specifically, she likes how adaptive the program is, something she feels other programs simply didn’t offer. “This is my second year taking online classes, and during that time Canvas has seen several updates, making it more user friendly.” Another student, Delena Martin, also had to choose online school to receive a higher education. Working full time with a family to provide for made it difficult for her to even take hybrid courses.
“My experience with MCC’s online classes have been pretty positive in that the teachers understand why the students are taking online classes and are very good at being available for questions via email,” Martin said. According to Ballard, the typical online student attending MCC is white, female, between the ages of 20 and 24, living in Mesa, working part-time with prior college experience, and looking to transfer. Approximately 40 percent of these students are taking at least one online or hybrid class. At the end of the day, this achievement can do nothing but good things for the future. “Accolades of this nature will continue to provide our program with the backing that we are providing quality education in our online programs,” Ballard said.