Dalton State Program Gives Non Students Chance To Further Their Education

Monday, July 21, 2014 - by Misty Wheeler, Dalton State College
Lynda Shenefield holds the book she self-published after enrolling in Dalton State’s epublishing course through the Education Enhancement program.
Lynda Shenefield holds the book she self-published after enrolling in Dalton State’s epublishing course through the Education Enhancement program.

Lynda Shenefield had an idea for a book.  But she needed help. Shenefield had no idea how to get her book published.  Then she saw a news release about an epublishing course offered at Dalton State, and thought that would be the perfect opportunity to learn what she needed to know. 

At 63, Ms. Shenefield didn’t want to go through the process of enrolling as a student and going through orientation, especially not for just one class. She didn’t need the college credit, just the content taught in the course.  

So Ms. Shenefield enrolled in Dalton State’s Education Enhancement program. 

Education Enhancement began last semester as way for adults to take courses offered by the College without having to worry about enrolling as a student, working for credit, paying registration fees, or taking placement tests. Students only have to pay tuition for the cost of the chosen course.  

It’s ideal for people who don’t need college credit for a degree, but want additional training, enrichment or to further a hobby. Those completing the class with a grade of at least 70 receive a certificate of completion. 

“I thought it was really great,” Ms. Shenefield said. “I was not looking for college credit, just the knowledge, the help, and I got it.” 

There are a few courses that those in the Education Enhancement program cannot take, such as those in the education department. And, taking a class is dependent on how much space is left in the course after registration has ended for enrolled students.  

The program began when Ross Poe, manager of Information Systems at J+J Flooring Group in Dalton, wanted a few of his employees to enroll and have the opportunity to learn additional skills for their job.  

“This is one example of a partnership we have with local organizations,” said Randall Griffus, dean of the School of Science, Technology, and Mathematics. “It’s one of the ways we are working to meet the needs of local businesses.” 

Tina Jones, a senior business analyst at J+J, wanted to further her business communication skills. It had been more than 20 years since the 50-year-old was in class at a technical school pursuing a career in programming. 

“The first time I took a business communication class, we were using word processors,” Ms. Jones said. “Taking the class in the spring really helped my confidence. I liked the classroom setting. I liked being there, talking to the professor. I really enjoyed it. I use business communications on a daily basis.”  

Mr. Poe said he realizes that in a technology world, information changes rapidly. He wants his employees to be able to adapt with it to be more successful. As a result of the course, Ms. Jones has implemented some changes in the programming department at J+J that have helped them be more efficient and successful. 

Mr. Poe began using the College as a resource several years ago as a programmer to solve complex problems using math. A professor in the math department would help Mr. Poe with his problem, give him an algorithm, and asked to know how it worked. 

“Last year I started looking at ways to help our employees keep up with the technology,” he said. “I saw online classes that you can take. One of the things we were looking at was business communication skills. I thought back to Dalton State College.”  

Mr. Poe said benefits of using the College instead of an online service include having that face-to-face interaction with others and the ability to network, as well as being able to return to the professor with questions as needed. 

“There are a lot more pros to using the College,” he said. “We found classes that meet our needs. I didn’t want to pay fees. And I realized Dalton State needed to fill classes with enrolled students first. It’s a good resource right here in our own back yard. I wanted to partner with the College. I think it would be advantageous for other businesses as well.”  

J+J paid for the students to take the courses, and Mr. Poe said sending employees to courses at the College was more affordable than other options available to him. 

Mr. Griffus said that’s one thing he hopes people realize about the Education Enhancement program: it’s affordable. 

In-state tuition is $99.67 per credit hour, bringing most non-lab courses to $299.01 and most lab courses to $398.68.  

“I really think it’s a bargain,” Mr. Griffus said. “Epublishing is approximately $300. If you compare that to the same kind of workshop or class, it would be quite a bit more expensive.” 

Ms. Shenefield said she wouldn’t have gotten the same kind of help or knowledge in a workshop that she did in the course at Dalton State. 

 “I knew it was going to be hard,” she said. “But Mrs. Barbara Tucker was wonderful. I knew she would help me with anything. I would slug my way through as much as I could and then email her. I had her as backup. And she was wonderful. It was the hardest thing I had done in years, but she kept making me think I could do it. I accomplished something I didn’t think I could do.”  

Because of the course, Ms. Shenefield successfully self-published her book, “Funeral and Burial Choices You Can Live With” a nonfiction, informational piece about options available when someone dies. 

Tucker thinks Education Enhancement is a wonderful program and hopes to have many other students like Ms. Shenefield in her class.

“I enjoyed having Lynda,” Mrs. Tucker said. “She worked hard. It’s a very technology heavy class. She really had to get up to speed on all the technology. But she was one of my best students. I only know of two people in that class that published anything.” 

Mr. Griffus hopes some people take a class through Education Enhancement and then decide to enroll in college.  

“One of the biggest benefits is it’s a low risk way to come back to college,” Mr. Griffus said. “They can come back - they’re not risking their GPA. They get the idea of what it would be like to come back to college without having to be admitted.”  

“I think people could build their confidence and realize they can do it,” he said. “That’s what I would hope would happen. Someone would come back and take classes through Education Enhancement, really enjoy school and become a student and earn credit.”  

Registration begins Aug. 6 for Education Enhancement. Classes begin Aug. 11. But people interested in taking a course through Education Enhancement are encouraged to contact Sarah Key now at skey@daltonstate.edu or 706.272-4556. 

Tina Jones, right, who took Dalton State’s business communications class through the Education Enhancement program, speaks with Gabriela Torres-Tapia about their work as senior business analysts at J+J Flooring Group.
Tina Jones, right, who took Dalton State’s business communications class through the Education Enhancement program, speaks with Gabriela Torres-Tapia about their work as senior business analysts at J+J Flooring Group.

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