Last updated on September 4, 2020
By Savannah Stover
2020 has introduced us all to the difficulties of sheltering in place, leaving college students searching for online college degree programs to stay on track with their educational goals. Online community college degree programs have emerged as a solid, cost-saving option for many students who may be working or taking care of family while earning their degree. Those committed to a premier online academic program need look no further than Vol State Community College. Of the over 1,000 community colleges in the United States, Volunteer State Community College has earned the #7 spot in the nation for online community college programs, according to a 2020 ranking done by College Consensus. OnlineU’s 2020 ranking gave Vol State the #4 best online community college in the state of Tennessee. Both used similar ranking criteria: the community colleges had to be accredited, next they looked at the number of associate degree programs available online, online enrollment rate, user-friendly platforms and graduation rate.
According to Vol State’s President Jerry Faulkner, increasing Vol State’s online presence began a couple of years ago. The pandemic forced a rapid transition into a primarily online academic program and the college’s preliminary efforts have paid off. Dr. Faulkner says the school administration was not aware that there were rankings being determined, but he was pleased.
“Anytime you have objective third-party entity evaluate the value, any kind of validation along those lines is important to us,”said Dr. Faulkner.
When asked to what he attributes the high ranking, Dr. Faulkner said that an intentional, campus-wide effort was made to increase a new and unique web presence; One that ensured a supportive, user-friendly platform with access to up-to-date media ,strong faculty visibility and availability. Vol State built a mentorship team of seasoned faculty known as the Distributed Education Department to intensively train instructors on how best to teach in an online environment and ensure only the highest quality curriculum.
“I am very proud to be part of a college with such a strong and well-regarded online program. Our faculty and staff have worked hard to create quality online learning experiences for our students, and it is nice to see the program recognized. I am especially glad in a semester like this one that we have spent the time to develop good options and support for our students and our faculty,” said Vice-President Dr. Jennifer Brezina.
For students cautious of an online degree program, concerned they will feel disadvantaged from traditional classroom support or isolated, Dr. Faulkner assures them it is nothing more than a “misperception,” and encourages them, “Try it, you’ll like it. There are high levels of interaction,”. He closes, emphasizing faculty availability and support for Vol State students. “We will help them succeed in whatever way we can,” said Dr. Faulkner.
Already at #7 nationally and #4 state-wide, and with over 30 varied and entirely online associate degree programs, Vol State continues to increase online programs available to ensure growth and success for current and future students.