ASCC semester off to good start after early challenges
The current fall 2012 enrollment figure at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) stands at approximately 1,800 as of this week, pending the conclusion of enrollment for the American Samoa Teacher Education Program (ASTEP).
With the first week of regular session classes now completed, the semester is getting underway in the normal fashion, with the students settling into their new schedules and instruction proceeding at full speed ahead. The College’s usual civic and social activities for students will soon get in gear, and a number of noteworthy ASCC events still lie ahead as the semester unfolds.
While the College experienced a challenging start to the semester due to a combination of unforeseen factors during registration, these factors have subsequently been reviewed and solutions pinpointed. “Registration usually proceeds in a much smoother fashion than it did on this occasion,” said the College’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle,” and we are confident that by the time students register for spring 2013 the challenges we faced this time will have been addressed and resolved.”
ASCC Registrar Mrs. Sifagatogo Tuitasi explained that the period in which a new course catalog is introduced always brings challenges. “Our curriculum is now based on the 2012-2014 ASCC Catalog, which has substantially different academic requirements from the previous edition,” she said. “Our introduction of the College Accelerated Preparatory Program (CAPP) and changes to our degree requirements meant that we needed to continue making changes and revisions to the catalog until this summer, which is in turn why we could not offer our standard pre-registration for continuing students.” ASCC has revised the requirements for its Associate of Arts (AA) degree based on recommendations from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which necessitated a re-adjustment of its course offerings over the next two years. “Our degree requirements now place a stronger emphasis in Student Learning Outcomes,” said Dr. Kolhoff-Belle, “with careful attention to provide our students with the skills to ether further their education or enter the workforce.”
Because no priority registration had taken place during the spring or summer, more continuing students than usual turned up on the first day of registration, which had been designed to primarily serve new students. “Many continuing students were concerned that the new students would fill up the available classes,” continued Tuitasi, “but the majority of new had in fact tested into pre-100 level classes for CAPP, so there was never any actual cause for concern that most regular classes would not be available.” The CAPP program, piloted over the summer, gives incoming students who test into developmental levels of English and Math the opportunity to come “up to speed” for regular college courses at an accelerated pace before they enter courses numbered 150 and above. Becoming familiar with processing both CAPP and regular ASCC students proved a challenge for the ASCC registration staff the first time around, but by the next registration will have become a normal part of the process.
Fall 2012 also marked the first occasion where continuing students registered using the College’s new online system. The online registration system, tested over the summer with mostly positive results, had some students frustrated as they negotiated it for the first time, while the College staff were also still familiarizing themselves with how to input last-minute schedule adjustments. Although these factors caused some delay in the registration process, Management Information Systems (MIS) Director Grace Tulafono said that overall the online system proved satisfactory. “With the online system still in development, we want to hold one more online registration that takes place on campus,” she explained, “but as of spring ASCC students will be able to register online either from home or other computers on or off campus for the spring 2013 semester.”
ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i reiterated that the College has learned from the recent experience and is now concentrating on its primary mission. “We hope the public understands that the inconveniences during this semester’s registration were caused by factors beyond our control,” he said. “These are just growing pains in a process that ultimately result in a more efficient system for both ASCC and its students. Although we got off to a bumpy start, over the first week of classes it appears everyone has settled in comfortably and from here on in we intend to focus on our main goal of achieving and maintaining academic excellence.”