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To Off-set Students’ Gas Price Woes, Community Colleges Change Class Schedules

As gas prices continue to rise, community colleges are modifying class schedules and boosting online course offerings to accommodate students who must commute to campus.

Various news reports say community colleges are dropping their Friday courses and extending the duration of classes taking place Monday-Thursday. According to an Associated Press report, students have been responding well to these increases in online offerings. At Villanova University, for example, the engineering school saw a 40 percent increase in online enrollment for the summer 2008 semester.

Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, Va., stated in June that it will make changes to its fall class schedule to remedy the situation. Classes that once met on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, instead, and once-per-week classes will be offered on Fridays, the Bristol Herald Courier (Va.)recently reported.

Dr. Deborah Clear, vice president of instruction and student services, said the institution received a lot of feedback from concerned students. “Since we announced the change, we’ve had an extremely positive response from students,” Clear told the Herald Courier. Some students said they will use the extra time to work and volunteer.

Other community colleges are also considering schedule changes or have already conducted trial runs, including Meridian Community College (Miss.), Rose State College (Okla.), and Three Rivers Community College (Mo.), according to USA Today.

While many students are lamenting about their commute, others are dropping out of college altogether.

At some North Carolina community colleges, students were reportedly skipping a semester and telling officials that they had to withdraw from summer courses because of gas prices. North Carolina Community College System spokeswoman Audrey Bailey told The Associated Press that the system suspects that more students will take classes via distance learning and will “bundle” their classes.

Gas prices are especially impacting students in rural areas, where they have to drive long distances and there is little to no access to public transportation.

About a quarter of the nation’s community colleges lack on-campus housing, according a USA Today report.

As of July 9, the national average gas price was $4.108 per gallon, according to AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Last year, the national average was $2.975 per gallon.

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