Friday-only classes lead to degree at RCCC

This fall, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is offering what may be its most flexible degree program ever.

The Friday-only option brings students to campus just one day a week to earn a degree. That means students can earn an Associate in Arts degree in 64 Fridays. The two-year degree allows students to transfer to any of the state’s four-year colleges to complete the final two years of a bachelor’s degree.

The program is the brainchild of Carolyn Holbert, the college’s dean of liberal arts and general education.

“We are trying to meet the needs of students and trying to think of ways to accommodate them,” she said.

She said a Friday degree program makes sense to students who are working part-time.

“If you’re a retailer,” she said, “think how much easier it would be to know that your employees can’t work (from) 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. We know it makes sense for employers to have students in class a certain time of day” on one day a week, not a few hours each day.

The college piloted the program during the spring semester of 2014, Holbert said.

“We were actually surprised how many students registered,” she said. “We weren’t promoting it that much at the time. The students found it themselves. This fall, we have about 400 to 500 students in this program.”

Holbert said most students in the program intend to pursue a four-year degree. Some students are just out of high school; others are older.

“We weren’t targeting a particular age group, but people with occupations,” she said.

Most of the classes are set up in a hybrid format, with some online work and some work in the classroom, Holbert said.

“It’s the best of both worlds. They get one-on-one work with instructors and get to know their fellow students, and they can complete work online.”

Typically, one set of classes meets on one Friday, and the next set meets the following Friday.

“The flexibility is excellent for any sort of student,” Holbert said.

One of those students is Jaelyn Belton, 19.

“When I discovered that there were many online classes and classes every other Friday, I jumped at the opportunity because of my work schedule,” said Belton, who works 20 hours a week.

This semester, she’s taking precalculus, art appreciation, general psychology and English. All the classes are online, but the English class meets every other Friday.

“I love the program because it allows flexibility,” Belton said. “I don’t have to worry about the pressure of going to school and then work, or to work and then school.”

Belton said she plans to transfer to UNC Charlotte to study pediatric nursing and perhaps even get a master’s degree.

“It’s just a great program for people with limited time during the day, as well as limited transportation,” she said.

Holbert expects enrollment to grow next fall.

“Once the students start talking about this program,” she said. “Others will want to try it. You can go one day a week to school and still get your degree. It’s very exciting.”