FARMINGTON — A new program at San Juan College allows students to earn associate degrees using a mix of online classes and classroom lessons on Saturdays.
Students at San Juan College's East Campus in Aztec can register for classes to earn associate degrees in liberal arts during a two-year program that uses a hybrid model of online and classroom lessons.
A survey conducted in 2012 showed students have a lot of interest in the college offering Saturday classes, said Lisa Wilson, the school's associate vice president of learning. As the college investigated offering weekend classes, Wilson said the notion of offering a mix of online and in-person classes seemed like a good solution.
"We feel like this is going to meet the need of a group of students we haven't been able to reach previously," Wilson said. "What we're also hoping for is this will give those students a chance to complete degrees and see the success and meet goals they have set for themselves."
The degree covers the general education requirements for New Mexico higher education, which will allow students to transfer to other state colleges and universities to pursue four-year degrees or bachelor's degrees at other institutions.
"It's a good foundation for any program you choose to pursue in the future," Wilson said.
The college's East Campus has been offering a small number of Saturday classes, but those are usually four hours long and last 10 weeks, said Marti Kirchmer, director of the campus.
The new program offers two-hour classes on Saturdays for eight weeks, with coursework assigned each week to be completed online.
"This gives us so much more flexibility, and it gives the students so much more flexibility than they had in previous Saturday classes," Kirchmer said.
Wilson and Kirchmer said the new program creates a community of students who complete the program together, allowing them to help each other while also having the freedom to complete the online work in their free time.
To complete the program in two years, Wilson said students will have to take additional online or summer classes, but the Saturday college classes will be scheduled so students can graduate in two years.
This is the first step toward potentially offering more degree programs in this format, Wilson said. An associate degree in business administration may be the next degree offered, she said.