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Enrollment up in online classes

Female student working online at home

The popularity of online classes continues to grow at Nicolet College, accounting for nearly a third of all credits earned in the 2017-18 academic year.

The reason: flexibility.

“We’re seeing students coming to Nicolet with multiple responsibilities in their lives,” said Chuck Komp, managing director of strategic initiatives at Nicolet.

“They have families. They have jobs. They need the high level of flexibility online classes offer in order to fit college into their lives.”

Records show the number of credits earned in online classes jumped from 21 percent of all credits awarded two years ago to 28 percent during the last academic year.

“That was a real ‘wow’ moment when we saw the final numbers. That’s more than a 30 percent increase in just one year,” Komp explained.

Most of these students took a combination of online classes mixed in with traditional classes.

But the final tally also showed a big jump in the number of students opting to take all of their classes online. That number nearly doubled, going from 6 percent to 11 percent year over year.

For student Christine Wilberding, mixing in online classes at Nicolet was the best option if she wanted a college education.

“The flexibility is very important,” said the working mother of three. “I would not be able to earn a college degree right now if I did not have the online option.”

To date, Wilberding has taken eight online classes on her way to finishing her Administrative Professional associate’s degree. She plans to graduate this December.

Starting her first online class was a bit intimidating, she readily admitted. But that feeling didn’t last long.

“Everybody at Nicolet is so helpful,” she said. “I was wondering if I was going to be out there in this online world all by myself, but that wasn’t the case at all. You really develop this sense of community, even family, with the other students in the class. Everybody, especially the instructors, want to see you succeed.”

Nicolet first offered online classes in 2004 with just a few classes. This coming Fall Semester students will have their choice of 68 different online classes from 21 different academic disciplines.

The Accounting and Business Management associate’s degrees can now be earned entirely by taking online classes. Several of the required classes for these degrees are also offered in the face-to-face classroom format, giving students the option of mixing traditional and online classes if they desire.

Nicolet College Interim Dean of Business Joel DeNamur noted that Nicolet structures each online class to provide a high level of support to students. “It all focuses on creating a quality learning experience for every student,” he said. “Along with instructors being readily available to interact one-on-one with students either online or in person, Nicolet also offers extensive tutoring resources and technical support. The depth of support is there for every student who is willing to put in the effort.”

Students taking online classes can also get face-to-face or online help with coursework at any of the college’s eight Academic Success Centers located within the six-county Nicolet College District. Center locations include Eagle River, Crandon, Tomahawk, Minocqua/Woodruff, Lac du Flambeau, Forest County Potawatomi Community, Carter, and on Nicolet’s Rhinelander Campus.

For more information about online classes at Nicolet, call (715) 365-4493, 1-800-544-3039, ext. 4493; TTY 1-800-947-3529 or 711 relay.

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