QVCC Reflects on Start of Fall 2020 Semester

A Word from First-Year Students and Dean of Academic
Affairs and Student Services

It’s been just over a month since QVCC students have returned to the fall semester after a unique and unprecedented spring term due to the effects of COVID-19. Dr. Joe Cullen, Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Services, commends the efforts put forth by staff and faculty and feels enthusiastic moving forward.

“In times of crisis, people pull together. It’s a natural human tendency that when we share in crisis, there is an immediate uptick of going the extra mile. I think the QVCC community is a perfect example of this. Staff and faculty have extended themselves and have shown amazing flexibility, and the positive feedback we’re receiving from students is a direct reflection of our campus community,” said Cullen.

When the pandemic first hit, QVCC was tasked with creating a safe, flexible, and healthy environment for students. As Dr. Cullen stated, “The health and safety of our students is more important than any other concern. Our response to the pandemic has been a model response,” referring to the numerous safety measures that have been implemented and the various course types QVCC now offers, including online and hybrid courses, designed to give students more flexibility in choosing the learning environment that best suits their individual needs and schedules.

When asked about the transition to mostly online learning, first-year QVCC student Caroline Gagnon said, “Online learning is definitely hard to get used to, and of course it would be beneficial to see my teachers in person and get to know them on that level, but my teachers have been extremely understanding and helpful.” Gagnon shared that she is taking her general courses at QVCC to save money, with intentions of transferring to Plymouth State University to complete her bachelor’s degree in the future.

Emma Turner, another first-year QVCC student, shared a similar testimonial, saying, “I was supposed to attend Endicott College, but I chose QVCC because I get to attend for free, and it felt like a better option at this time.” In terms of the transition to online learning, Turner commented, “I like to have more freedom at home. I’m working full-time, so getting to choose time to work on school is beneficial. Overall, my experience at QVCC has been great as the teachers are very helpful and are doing their best to make online learning comfortable.”

As expected, there are also downsides to learning remotely. First-year QVCC student Trinity Angel admits, “I’m a very hands-on learner and doing everything online can be annoying – but it’s not the end of the world. I can definitely handle it, it’s just something to get used to.” Like Gagnon and Turner, Angel is attending QVCC to save money and plans to transfer next semester.

Looking ahead to the spring 2021 semester, students can expect to see a schedule very similar to the current schedule, along with the same course modalities that are being offered this fall. Late Start classes will also be offered to help acclimate students. Likewise, students can look forward to a proliferation of additional class formats in the form of hybrid Saturday classes, which would only require students to give up one Saturday per month. QVCC also plans to offer half-semester courses, and in fall 2021 we will offer courses in a 7-week or 8-week format, allowing students to take courses like criminal justice, phlebotomy, medical assisting, and other programs that lead to jobs in a faster timeframe.

When asked “Why should a student choose QVCC?”, Cullen confidently responded, “I’ve been involved in education for 30+ years, and in that time, both on a personal level and in terms of my research, the most important core ingredient is not the classroom, not the materials, not the curriculum, but the teachers. That’s the magic ingredient, which we have in abundance.” Cullen continued, “We have around 700 full-time students and that kind of staff-to-student ratio doesn’t exist in many places.”

In other positive news, QVCC has moved its satellite location from Windham Technical High School back to its former location at 729 Main Street in Willimantic, which is shared with EASTCONN’s LEAP (Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership) Alternative School. This convenient location will offer a variety of subjects ranging from core courses in English and math to communication, art, English as a Second Language (ESL), Early Childhood Education, history, humanities, and science.


QVCC Implements New Booking Tool for Remote Advising

Without the ability to hold in-person advising sessions, Quinebaug Valley Community College has implemented Microsoft Bookings to facilitate remote advising sessions for students. While there won’t ever be a proper substitute for one-on-one, in-person interactions, this platform will help make it even easier for students to get time with our Student Services staff. With the Bookings tool, students now have the ability to book an appointment from wherever they are, with whoever is available, making our student services more accessible. Now students can video chat with an advisor at a designated time of their choosing.

This transition to the Bookings tool can also assist us in collecting important data to help us better serve our students. We’ll be able see the most popular days of the week and time of day when people choose appointments, which services are getting the most requests for information, which topics within those services students are looking for most frequently – with potential for even more.

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Students can book appointments in the following areas:

  • Academic Advising
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Career Services
  • Disability Services
  • Financial Aid
  • SNAP Employment and Training
  • Support Services
  • Veteran’s Services