Community Ed: Off the grading scale

by Emily Huntington

Horizon Reporter

There are several non-credit classes that range from how to make a perfect food dish to how to work your BlackBerry, even controlling your finances are offered, and they are much cheaper than a for-credit class on campus. You can learn how to dance, do Pilates, or learn how to cook a dish German style. There are also classes that you can earn certificates in – such as the business of floral design. How, you ask? Through community education at Whatcom. Community education provides skills and training, as well as personal enrichment for people of Whatcom County.

Most classes, said Greg Marshall, Director of Community Education, are three to 12 hours long and are focused on one subject. Students pay for the classes up front, and the classes don’t translate into credit.

Community education is a great way to add a new skill needed for classes or on the job market. “It’s also a great way to learn a new hobby,” Marshall said.

Anne George, French instructor and former community education teacher, says that students who participate in community education fully choose to be there, and are motivated and demanding students with a definite goal in mind. These goals could be anything from going on a four-week vacation in Paris to working for Doctors without Borders in Africa, George explained. If something isn’t working for them, they let the instructor know right away. Community ed students are also self-starters, which results in them perhaps bringing more to the table than a credit class that is graded and filled with exams.

Some students even take community education classes to compliment their for-credit classes on campus. For example, you could take a Spanish class through Community education to learn a new angle and use that to your benefit for your for-credit Spanish class on campus.

Among other things, it can be “a non-threatening way to gain confidence in a difficult area of study since it is non-graded,” George said.

To sign up, go to Whatcom’s Web site, and click on the “community & continuing education” tab, and follow the instructions on that page. Also included is the classes offered for the quarter and prices of classes.


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