Keuka College sophomore Shaelyn Diamond is a high-honors student.
But you wouldn’t know that by looking at her Fall 2021 grade in Bio 203 – despite all the work she put in.
“I went to study group sessions,” recalls the Occupational Therapy major. “I studied individually with my friends, I asked the professor to set up individual office hours with me one-on-one, I recorded the lectures so I could listen to them afterward. I physically did as much as I could.”
But as any student will tell you, sometimes a class just doesn’t click.
“I got a poor grade,” Shaelyn says. “A very, very poor grade.”
That was a problem. Shaelyn needed that Bio 203 course as a prerequisite for higher-level classes – but it wouldn’t be offered again on campus until Fall 2022.
Fortunately for Shaelyn, and students like her, Keuka College has entered into a new educational partnership that enables them to quickly retake the class. The College has joined forces with Acadeum, the nation’s largest online course-sharing platform. Through Acadeum, Keuka College students have access to courses delivered online by institutions from across the country.
An Academic Springboard
“Students can have trouble in a course for all kinds of reasons,” says Keuka College Interim Associate Provost Dr. Anne Weed. “Our ability to offer them support to rebuild their GPA and to get themselves back on track is essential. Acadeum is an academic springboard – it springs students forward after a tough semester.”
Semesters don’t get much tougher than they did for Shaelyn’s classmate, Theresa Shirtz ’24 in Fall 2021. A death in her immediate family required time at home and upended her priorities. When she sat down with her professor at the end of the semester to weigh options, retaking Bio 203 via Acadeum was an easy call.
Signing up for the online course wasn’t any more difficult.
“Registering was actually pretty easy,” says Theresa, an Occupational Therapy major. “I emailed my academic advisor about how to go about it and we emailed the Registrar and Financial Aid and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to sign up for this course.’”
Adding the class was not only easy but affordable. The cost to students for a course through Acadeum is the exact same per-credit cost as any online Keuka College course ($475/credit hour).
“That helps make billing and financial aid a seamless experience for students,” notes Keuka College Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Brad Fuster.
The Registrar and Financial Aid offices completed the process, registering Theresa, Shaelyn, and five other Keuka College students for the Bio 203 course offered by Colorado State University-Global.
“I was thrilled to see colleges like Colorado State University and the University of Massachusetts participate,” says Dr. Weed. “It’s reassuring to see such high-powered, well-respected institutions offering these courses.”
The course began the week after Keuka College’s Fall semester ended and continued two weeks into the Spring 2022 semester. But as long as students maintained a passing grade, they were able to enroll in and begin Bio 204, for which Bio 203 is a prerequisite.
“I was happy,” says Shaelyn. “Because that means I can continue my education and not worry that I won’t be able to graduate on time.”
The courses through the Acadeum network are reviewed and approved by the College. That means students not only get credit for the course but, unlike with traditional transfer courses, they also have the grade applied to their GPA.
That made a huge difference for Shaelyn and Theresa, both of whom aced the course and significantly boosted their GPAs. In fact, five of the seven students earned at least a B-, boosting every one of their GPAs. The final two students also passed the course.
Those grades were hard-earned; the classwork is robust, students say.
“There are due dates you have to meet – every Thursday at midnight you had to complete your discussion post; every Sunday at midnight you had to complete your paper and quizzes,” says Shaelyn. “But you can go at your own pace.”
The four-credit class even included a lab component.
“For the lab portion we had to purchase a dissection kit,” says Theresa. “We got a sheep brain and a cow eye and then we do the dissections at home.”
That was not exactly the kind of homework her family was used to seeing her do, Theresa says.
“They were like, you stay in this room – stay in there, keep that in there,” she says. “We’ll stay in here.”
Keeping Students Connected
Dr. Fuster says the courses through the Acadeum network are exactly the type of wrap-around support and academic offerings students need as they strive to earn diplomas amid the demands and distractions of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
We’re confident that using courses through the Acadeum network will help keep students connected to Keuka College as they maintain progress toward their degree
“We look forward to supplementing our summer term with Acadeum offerings to give students more options to catch up or to get ahead.”
It’s an option Theresa says she would definitely recommend to fellow students.
“If this course is available,” she says, “I would definitely say to take it because it’s a great help.”
Shaelyn likewise stresses the word “help” when describing the course.
“I enjoyed this experience,” she says, “because it really helped me to make my knowledge and foundation stronger so I can go on in my journey of learning.”