Success Story: ‘Not a normal experience, but so far, it’s been good.’

September 2, 2020

Kyle KorsonKyle Korson gets food at the Hawk Owl CaféMasked students, faculty and staff members returned to a campus transformed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as completely overhauled fall classes began last week in new instruction formats, with safety and learner success top-of-mind.

“We know some parts of the college experience will be different,” NMC President Nick Nissley said in a welcome video message to students. “Our faculty and staff are still here for you, in more new ways than ever before, to help you reach your goals.”

NMC’s fall learning plan is safety first, offering most classes remotely. It’s the reverse of 2019, when 83 percent of courses were offered in traditional face-to-face lecture format. This fall, only 13 percent are. Livestream debuts as a brand-new format. More than a third of classes are offered livestream, with an instructor teaching online at established days and times.

“Our instructors spent the summer learning how to make virtual learning even better,” Nissley said.

Classes are also offered in on-demand online format, hybrid, and in person where required for accreditation, such as nursing.

Nursing student Kendall McNitt had planned to transfer to NMC from Saginaw Valley State University pre-pandemic, but the safety and flexibility NMC is offering students in this unique semester has affirmed she made a good decision. She’s closer to her East Jordan home, in smaller classes and paying more affordable tuition. Her classes are a mix of all the formats.

“So far, everyone’s been very on top of the guidelines,” McNitt said of safety requirements like mandatory masks and social distancing in classrooms. “All of the nursing professors, they’re super willing to help.”

First-year student Kyle Korson, an East Hall resident, is taking all his classes online, but is grateful to be living on campus for the reliable wireless Internet connection. He lives in Leelanau County near Northport and said connectivity from his home is poor, and wouldn’t allow for livestreamed classes.

“It’s good to get away,” added the engineering student.

On-campus housing occupancy is at about 50 percent of capacity, to allow for social distancing. Fellow East Hall resident Lukus Herblet is glad to be living on campus and that some of his audio technology classes are in hybrid format, combining online and face-to-face instruction.

“I feel it’s part of the college experience,” he said.

New to this year’s college experience: Hand sanitizer stations in all building entrances, with complimentary face masks available to help visitors comply.

Also, the Timothy J. Nelson Innovation Center is now open after almost two years of construction. The first-floor Hawk Owl Cafe and the new second-floor library are open to students, faculty and staff, with occupancy limited to about 50 percent of capacity. Public seating areas have also been marked so that visitors maintain a minimum six feet of separation.

“It’s pretty nice to have everything in one place,” Herblet said.

McNitt, settled into one of the booths by the cafeteria, agreed.

“It’s definitely not a normal experience, but so far, it’s been good,” she said.

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