Viewpoint: Baylor needs distance learning

In the coming weeks, students around campus will prepare to leave Waco to spend their summer vacation at home with their families. Others will continue to take classes at Baylor, working towards, completing their degree. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could do both?

Distance learning for higher education is growing more popular; some institutions like the University of Phoenix offer their entire curriculum online.
Then there’s Baylor.

Unless you’re a nursing student at Baylor’s Dallas campus or a graduate student, online courses aren’t an option. This leaves students who want to take summer courses with two options: Stay in Waco or enroll in another college.

I can’t afford to stay in Waco during the summer months; living expenses plus tuition during the summer are very different than fall or spring semester expenses because less of my financial aid package applies. However, I also can’t afford the time off from courses, so I will be enrolled in online courses at McLennan Community College while staying in Houston.

Ideally, I would be taking these courses through Baylor. It would be nice to have more institution hours, but also I genuinely enjoy learning from Baylor professors.

Someone might argue that if Baylor would offer online courses I wouldn’t be enjoying that same teacher-student relationship, but I can say from experience that is not true.

I’m a transfer student from the University of Texas at Austin and I’ve also taken classes from San Jacinto Community College in Houston.

Each of these schools offered online courses that I enrolled in and each time I enjoyed a healthy relationship with my professors. What’s more, I wasn’t restricted by my location.

In most cases I would say Baylor shouldn’t be compared to other institutions because it really is like no other.

There exists a feeling of community, a connection to the campus that most institutions lack.

I’m also not advocating that Baylor offer its entire curriculum online because I do believe there is value in experiencing the campus lifestyle in face-to-face interactions.

And while I agree that Baylor has amazing resources on campus, the lack of online courses, when institutions like Rice and Harvard have already implemented them, makes Baylor seem backwards.

I’m realistic and don’t expect Baylor to jump straight into the cold water, but perhaps dipping its toes into hybrid classes for summer semesters would be a step in the right direction — but I suppose I should wait for Baylor to figure out registration waiting lists first.

Paula Ann Solis is a junior journalism major from Houston. She is a staff writer for the Lariat.