Kelsey Coto

Students facing lengthy waitlists or class closings for core courses may not be out of luck, as the University Extension program offers extra classes in addition to UT’s general course listings.

The University Extension program offers separate versions of some UT classes in evenings or online. UT has been offering correspondence courses since the early 1900s, but the program incorporating online and classroom style courses has existed since 2005, said assistant to the program director Dominique Alcala. Classes for the program this semester begin on Jan. 23, and late registration is still open for students. Alcala said a “smorgasbord” of people uses the program, and 40 percent of students enrolled in the courses are UT students who are enrolled in day classes but are looking for more options. Others taking extension classes are adults with day jobs interested in transitioning careers, or in continuing their education, and some students are not seeking UT degrees, but simply class credit.

For students who are not seeking degrees at UT, having a transcript that still bears the UT seal can be valuable, she said.

Courses offered through the program are mostly core curriculum classes that many students need to complete degree requirements, she said. Alcala said classes could not be included in flat tuition rate, but that the relative course cost for enrolled students just depends on how many courses they are taking.

Class sizes are usually much smaller than a typical lecture style class at UT, said biochemistry associate professor David Hoffman, who had 32 students and no teaching assistant in the biochemistry class he taught last semester.

“It’s my favorite course to teach,” Hoffman said. “When I teach the regular course the class sizes are about 200.”

Hoffman taught the class at traditional times for two years before schedule conflicts prevented him from continuing. He said he now enjoys the night class because its smaller numbers encourage students to raise questions. Some of his students were teachers or engineers looking to switch into health professions, he said.

“It really is a different experience,” Hoffman said. “It’s one of UT’s best kept secrets.”

Word-of-mouth alerted public health senior Kelsey Coto to Hoffman’s class, which she said she was happy to come across since Hoffman no longer taught it during the day.

Coto said the registration process was simpler than UT’s main registration and, after talking with her advisor, found out the credit transferred seamlessly. Coto said her class did not have the ability to utilize UT’s Blackboard tool, but Coto said Hoffman kept communication with the class via his own website.

“It was easy to ask questions and the professor was approachable,” Coto said.

While Alcala said the program has taken many different marketing approaches, she said she is surprised that more people are not familiar with the program.

“We’re not hiding,” Alcala said.

Printed on Thursday, January 19, 2012 as: University Extension offers varied experiences