During its last meeting, the Faculty Council discussed a plan to expand the number of classes Ithaca College offers online. While this will help make studying away a possibility for many students, online courses cannot substitute for an in-class experience, and students on the Ithaca campus should be encouraged to take traditional classes.
Currently, students who study off the Ithaca campus, either abroad or at satellite programs like New York City and Los Angeles, must deal with limited available classes or transferable credits. This lack of options forces some students to choose between graduating on time with their desired credits and studying away. More online courses would make it easier for current students to spend a semester off campus and take advantage of the travel or real-world experiences study-away programs offer.
However, the administration must be cautious when expanding the college’s online program. Students who are on the Ithaca campus should continue to expect small classrooms and the opportunity to work closely with their professors and their peers. Online alternatives should not serve as a substitute for traditional classes because courses are full or students have other registration errors. Students looking to enroll in online courses could do so at larger state schools for a fraction of the cost. To stay competitive, Ithaca College must find ways to help students have study-away options while maintaining its small college values like individualized attention and an interactive learning environment.