BY Amanda Sotelo
Across the state, students at Texas State Technical College now have the option of enrolling in and completing a technical award online with the college’s newest 100 percent online programs.
The most recent online programs that offer either a certificate or associate degree are Cyber Security, Digital Media Design and Medical Office Specialist. Health Information Technology was the first program to go completely online.
“These technical awards are a great addition to what TSTC already offers,” said Associate Vice President of Online Learning Dr. Gina Cano-Monreal. “It doesn’t matter anymore where you live because completing a technical award at TSTC is now more possible than ever.”
It was these online classes that gave Missouri native Kathleen Albert the opportunity of receiving an associate degree from Health Information Technology.
The 54-year-old had already spent most of her life working as a certified professional coder, but her dream was to become a registered health information technician and TSTC’s 100 percent online program made it possible.
“I did my research, found TSTC offered the program I needed, spoke with the faculty and I was more than impressed,” said Albert. “Never did I feel alone during the program. All of my instructors were available when I needed them. I highly recommend this program and TSTC.”
Albert is now working as a Reimbursement Analyst for St. Anthony Medical Center in Missouri and credits all of her success to TSTC’s online program.
“I had the opportunity to travel to West Texas and meet my instructors in person to thank them for helping me achieve my goal,” said Albert. “More doors of opportunity opened for me because of their teaching and TSTC.”
There are a total of 186 online courses and at least 20 programs such as Surgical Technology, Computer Science and Chemical Dependency Counseling that offer more than 50 percent of its curriculum online.
“Our hybrid programs are gaining popularity with students because of their flexibility and convenience,” said Monreal, who is also an online instructor for Anatomy and Physiology.
Each hybrid program offers the lecture portion of the class online and all labs on campus.
Last semester, TSTC’s online programs had more than 3,000 students enrolled statewide and Monreal said she expects to see annual increases as more courses are added.
According to Monreal, the program with the highest enrollment is TSTC’s Academic Core, which includes subjects such as composition, college algebra, history and biology.
“These are classes our degree track students need, so being able to take them online is a huge plus for them,” she said. “For example, students can save on gas, childcare and work full-time if needed.”
For Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics student and Edinburg native Gabby Perrett that is the case. She has recently become her father’s temporary caregiver due to illness and driving nearly an hour to campus is no longer an option.
The 20-year-old, who is pursuing an associate degree, is currently taking her required English and Mathematic courses.
“Being able to take these courses online allow me to continue my education even though I can’t be on campus,” she said. “I’m grateful to have this type of opportunity that allows me to continue pursuing my dreams even with my current situation.”
All online course semesters are 15-weeks, online technical certificates and degree pro-grams offer the same degree plan as those offered on campus and all online classes are aligned statewide.
To register for an online course a student must apply and satisfy all TSTC admissions re-quirements, meet with an advisor and successfully complete the Student Online Orientation.
Monreal said the future of TSTC’s online course offerings is bright. Their goal is to expand technical degree offerings while maintaining a quality learning experience.
“We will continue to increase opportunities for students and stay in touch with students’ needs,” said Monreal. “We’re going to take what we have and take it to the next level.”
Starting in Fall 2018, Business Management Technology and Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics will also offer an associate degree 100 percent online.
For more information on TSTC’s online courses or to register, call 956-364-4050 or visit tstc.edu/programlist/courseschedules.