ROCK SPRINGS – Western Wyoming Community College will offer expanded Children’s Center hours and other services as part of its new evening course program, Western After Hours, beginning with the upcoming Fall 2015 semester. Western After Hours is a new initiative designed to better accommodate students who work or have other daytime obligations by offering a streamlined approach to evening classes that satisfy the general education requirements for an associate’s degree.
The program represents an expansion of existing evening class offerings, which are offered both at the Rock Springs campus and the Green River Center. The difference, according to Western officials, is that in recent years the College’s evening classes have not been offered in a systematic way that helps students satisfy particular requirements for a degree. Western After Hours, by contrast, is a two-year pilot program that will provide an assortment of general-education night classes so that students can complete all of their required general-education credits in the evening over a two-year period. Western After Hours is part of the college's strategic enrollment planning initiative designed to better manage enrollment and serve students.
General-education classes are basic college courses like English, math and lab sciences that all students must take as part of any two-year degree program.
“Western Wyoming Community College is committed to meeting the needs of all learners in Sweetwater County, and we understand that many of our citizens who would like to begin earning their college degree, or who have courses toward a degree they would like to complete, simply cannot attend daytime classes,” said Western President Karla Leach. “We also realize that online courses, although increasingly popular, are not conducive to all learning styles. Some students feel more comfortable and engaged in a face-to-face classroom setting. Western After Hours allows us to offer those students the classes they need for a college degree, at a time and in a format that will help them to be successful.”
Evening classes being offered in Fall 2015 include: Introduction to Speech; Computer Information Systems; English Composition; Beginning Algebra; American and Wyoming Government; Photography; General Biology; First-Year Spanish; and History of the United States to 1865, among others. For a complete list of evening courses for fall, go to www.westernwyoming.edu/registration and view page 41 of the Summer/Fall 2015 Schedule.
As part of Western After Hours, some campus services will expand their hours of operation for the convenience of evening students.
The front information desk can help with course registration and other issues that surface during the evening. The Children’s Center, which marks its 40th anniversary in September, will offer evening services Monday through Thursday that correspond with the fall semester’s evening class times so that parents will have an on-campus child-care option. The Center will close 15 minutes after the end of the last class each evening.
The T-Rex Grill, located in the Atrium, will remain open until 7:30 p.m., with grill service until 6 p.m., for the dining convenience of evening students. In addition to its made-to-order burgers and other items, the T-Rex offers a variety of grab-n-go salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and snacks.
Western’s ACE-IT Center already offers limited evening advising sessions in Hay Library beginning mid-semester and these sessions will resume in Fall 2015, with exact dates to be announced after the semester begins. The WWCC Bookstore is already open until 7 p.m. on Mondays and will extend its Thursday hours until 7 p.m., as well. And the Student Disability and Counseling Center (SDC) makes evening counseling sessions available by appointment.
“We are inviting more students to be on our campus in the evenings, and it’s important that they have access to services, especially to our Children’s Center and to our snack bar services,” President Leach said. “We want the community to know that good things are happening on our campus in the evenings, and that they can be part of it.”
Many After Hours classes are scheduled at 5:30 or 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesday or Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that students can potentially take two classes in the same evening. The U.S. history course meets only on Tuesday nights for three hours, and the biology lab offered this fall meets for an extended period on Wednesdays to accommodate the lab time.
“For the most part, we’ve been able to schedule classes that adhere to the 5:30 and 7 p.m. format, for the convenience of students who may only be able to attend classes two nights per week,” said Marketing and Communication Coordinator Christopher Sheid, chair of the enrollment management subcommittee on evening courses that devised the After Hours program. “Our goal is for evening students to be able to complete all of their general education credits in two years, so it was important that students be able to fit two classes into a single evening. Our faculty and division chairs really worked with us to make this schedule possible and give new and current students a wider range of class times.”
Sheid noted that Western’s fall schedule also includes a variety of other evening courses that do not follow the 5:30 and 7 p.m. format. These are not technically considered After Hours courses, but students are encouraged to take whatever classes best fit their schedule, he said.
Sheid also noted that some specific After Hours course subjects will rotate through the schedule each semester. If a student does not want to take biology this fall, for example, he or she may have the chance to take chemistry next spring, instead. All students are required to take a lab science, and several of them will be offered as evening classes during the next four semesters.
“Not every subject will be offered as an evening class every semester,” Sheid explained. “But over the two-year cycle, students will have the opportunity to take all of the general-education classes they will need for their degrees. They will just need to plan ahead and work with their academic advisor to make sure they are taking the classes they need and want to take during the semester that class is offered.”
For now, Western After Hours is geared toward general-education classes that provide the credits all students need in order to graduate. The College is looking at the feasibility of offering additional evening classes in the future that would allow students to complete an entire Associate of Arts in General Studies degree at night. Western’s ability to do that will depend, in part, on student response to the current course offerings.
“We have not offered evenings classes in this kind of organized fashion in some time, and one of our goals over the next two years is to collect data on this program so that we can verify that there is a market for evening courses and programs,” Sheid explained. “We certainly believe there is demand for evening face-to-face classes, which is why we are expanding not only our course offerings but also our support services. Assuming that we see strong evening enrollment, we will look at how we might build out the program in other ways that will best serve our students.”
Sheid also emphasized that Western After Hours courses are open to all students, including those who just prefer taking an evening class to an early-morning one.
“We expect there will be a few students who’d prefer not to wake up for an 8:30 a.m. class if they can take a 5:30 p.m. class, instead,” he said. “That is fine with us.”
Registration for Fall 2015 is going on now. Classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 26. Degree-seeking students who are new to Western are asked to apply for Admission online at westernwyoming.edu, or to contact the Admissions Office at (307) 382-1648 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.