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Germanna enrollment jumps: Fall classes go online

From Germanna Community College:

Germanna Community College will go to an online schedule this fall, allowing students to move forward with their education while safe at home.

As many colleges across the nation worry about enrollment because of public concerns about COVID-19 and related economic uncertainty, Germanna has seen summer enrollment increase by 30 percent over this time last year. Early indications are that fall enrollment may follow that upward trend. Community college enrollment has traditionally gone up in difficult economic times due to affordability and accessibility.

“We love our students and our community,” Gullickson said. “Our decision for fall is based, first-and-foremost, on the health and safety of our community. We’re committed to providing a safe and smart option for our students to keep working towards their goals and a brighter future.”

“Germanna has been in the business of online education for more than a decade,” the GCC president said. “This year, faculty have devoted untold hours in professional development and course development to further their experience and excellence. We have invested thousands of dollars in technological enhancements to make online education exceptional for Germanna’s students.”

She noted that a WalletHub survey ranked Germanna as the top community college in Virginia, and added: “We know that our students have come to expect only the best. We will deliver nothing less. And most credits earned transfer seamlessly to a four-year degree.”

Most are completely virtual.

Dr. Shawn Shields, professor of chemistry, co-chair of the Germanna Science Department, and co-chair of the Curriculum Committee, said all chemistry courses are online with lots of videos and tutorials. Most labs will be online too, and will also include a small, but essential, amount of hands-on work in socially distanced labs for transfer students.”

Shields said adaptive online homework helps make online lessons work. “Software uses each student’s responses to identify where the student understands the concepts already or who might be struggling with a particular concept,” she said. The homework system will adapt to each individual student, and will provide extra instruction or shortened assignments where appropriate. I always tell students it is like having an individual tutor. If students are struggling with the math part, it will also provide brief math lessons where appropriate. It really is a form of artificial intelligence, and generally students find it very helpful, especially in an online environment.

“That gives students just the amount of practice they need,” she said, “and with Zoom office hours, they can meet with us at just about any reasonable time they need to for extra help.”

Counterintuitively, students in online classes often get more one-on-one time than students in traditional classes. “They get tons of support,” Shields said.

Germanna Vice President for Student Services Tiffany Ray said all support services, including tutoring, advising, career planning and military services are available through one-on-one virtual appointments.

Faculty member Cheryl Huff, who teaches English, Humanities and Philosophy, said taking classes online allows students great flexibility. Some classes require students and instructors to be online at set times, just as in-person courses do. Others allow students to watch recorded classes when it’s convenient.

“I became excited about teaching online when I realized I had a lot of students who worked and took the classes online after they put their children to bed,” Huff said

Gullickson said she believes that in addition to safety, a big reason for the enrollment increase is affordability.

“We can provide a debt-free path to a college diploma,” she said. “Our cost will always be one-third the cost of our Virginia public four-year college and university partners. And most [TMR1] credits earned transfer seamlessly toward a four-year degree. Students save more by staying home while pursuing their degree.”

To increase access for low- income students, Germanna is offering free laptops to those who have financial need and social- distanced use of campus computer labs and WiFi. Additionally, campus parking lots are being turned into WiFi hotspots.

For the first time, Germanna is offering $500 scholarships for local residents to pursue career-training in five in-demand fields: Automotive Repair, Business, Early Childhood Education, Engineering, Healthcare and Information Technology. For more information on the scholarships, go to…rst-scholarships/

Go to for more information and to register.

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