By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
By extending days and hours of operation, the Lord Fairfax Community College Luray-Page County Center will make it possible for students to obtain an Associate Degree in two years, just by taking classes on Saturdays.
The center currently offers courses Monday through Thursday, but that will change this fall when the pilot weekend program is implemented.
"Hopefully this will better work around the students' other schedules," said the Middletown campus's Assistant Vice President of Instruction, Dr. Morgan Phenix.
Phenix also has responsibilities at the center in Luray County.
"The courses offered are already available, but now they'll be offered on Saturdays, alternating between two sets of courses," he said.
Students can take one course from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., followed by a second from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The schedule will be the same for the other pair of courses taken every other week. A gym class will also be offered from 4 to 5 p.m. on some Saturdays.
Phenix said that some community colleges have programs that allow Associate Degrees to be achieved by taking classes one day a week, but it may take longer than the normal two years.
"This is something I've never heard of before," he said. "We'll see how it goes."
Phenix added that students could use the program to finish an uncompleted degree as well. The courses will lead to an Associate of Arts and Sciences Degree, which can be used to obtain a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution.
"Page [county] is in some ways a special case," Phenix said. "People here are working very hard to make ends meet, and while they may want to do something else, they still have to maintain that full-time job."
He feels the weekend program will give options to those that might not have had time during the week to further their education.
Additionally, this fall the center will start hosting courses through Old Dominion University that go toward both bachelor's and master's degrees.