Weekend College Program thrives at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
The Weekend College Program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College would be better named Every Other Weekend College. Classes are held alternate weekends on Friday evenings and Saturday during the day. It's definitely a unique college progra...
The Weekend College Program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College would be better named Every Other Weekend College. Classes are held alternate weekends on Friday evenings and Saturday during the day. It's definitely a unique college program, specifically designed for busy students with full schedules.
"The schedule works very well with my life because I am able to continue working full time and I still have every other weekend to spend with my family," said Suzanne Stoddard of Cloquet. "It is a great way to get my Associate of Arts degree."
Weekend College provides a practical way for busy students to earn a college degree in two years. Courses are designed to integrate class materials with real life applications, providing an interactive and comfortable learning environment.
The success rate of the Weekend College Program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College students is outstanding. Beginning in 2002 with a handful of students, Weekend College has enabled 14 students to successfully complete their Associate of Arts degree. Seven more students are projected to graduate in 2007. During fall semester 2006, 13 students were enrolled in the program. Student success has been attributed to small class sizes and a student-centered learning atmosphere.
"There are really great people involved, with a lot of one-on-one interaction," said Mistee Van Hoever of Cloquet. "I was surprised at how close everyone became. I was also surprised with how much I actually enjoyed going to school. The teachers, the students and the work we do in the classes are great. Thank goodness for this opportunity or I may have never made it to college."
Weekend College courses are taught by qualified instructors who are dedicated to encouraging and keeping students on task. Friendly class settings promote a strong sense of community and shared commitment between students and instructors. Students often comment on the consistent flexibility and support from professors.
"It is so adaptable and you get so much more out of it than taking one or two classes here and there as a part-time student," said Deb Ostlund. "I was impressed with how truly manageable it was with my busy lifestyle, and I am more committed to finishing. I am thankful the instructors are committed to making the program successful."
Students involved in Weekend College at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College develop relationships with one anther and play important roles in supporting their classmates. A sense of community and shared commitment evolves among the students, encouraging student success and program completion. Weekend College implements an innovative, highly effective method of teaching known as the learning community. With this method, Weekend College courses are grouped into six clusters and are thematically linked to integrate material from class to class, providing an interactive teaching and learning environment.
Material learned through the learning community model is interesting, meaningful and interconnected. For example, the first cluster of classes is "Communication and Culture." This cluster focuses on developing communication competence in the areas of speaking and writing, while exploring the culture and history of Native Americans. Classes in this cluster include Anishinaabeg of Lake Superior, College Writing, and Public Speaking.
Integrating materials from class to class has proven to be very effective. One Weekend College student commented that "meshing the subjects together is like our multi-task lives, so it makes sense to have the courses instructed this way."
Scherrie Foster, faculty and coordinator of the program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, speaks highly of the learning experience found in this program.
"It's wonderful!" she said. "I wish everyone who wanted a really dynamic learning experience would attend Weekend College."
Student success is a top priority at Weekend College. The Weekend College staff work closely with each student, guiding and advising them throughout their college experience.
"This is a great opportunity to attend school on a full-time basis when you have a full-time, Monday-through-Friday job," said Kathleen Jaspers of Cass Lake, who makes the 120-mile drive to Cloquet every other weekend to attend class. "The people are great. Everybody is so laid back. I really enjoy the relaxed classroom environment."
All credits earned through Weekend College transfer toward a four-year degree at other institutions if students choose to continue. Students who complete the Weekend College program graduate with an associate of arts degree from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. Financial aid is available for eligible students enrolled in Weekend College.
Currently, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College offers a complete schedule of daytime, evening, and online courses over the Internet. Weekend College is just another step toward meeting the changing needs of students.
"I love Weekend College and encourage anyone who is interested to attend," said Angela Pomeroy of Cloquet. "The time in class goes by fast, and the instructors and students are so supportive and encouraging."