Students speak on the Benefits of Columbia College of Missouri

Maarten Metzelaar, Staff Writer

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Walking into Robert Allare’s office in E building, I was greeted well and given a chair.  Sitting down and talking to Robert, I mentioned I was going into the experience blind,  essentially not knowing a thing about Columbia College of Missouri.

Robert was happy to let me know an overview of their academic model.  First, they have been a partner of ECC for more than 20 years.  Offering Bachelor’s degrees,  Columbia allows students to finish up their education after getting an associate’s at ECC.

The classes themselves consist of computer based learning and traditional “in-seat” classes, both of which are held right here on the ECC campus. Speaking about their affordability, Allare mentioned the prices of their classes are typically 15 percent cheaper than even in-state colleges.

The main difference between Columbia and other colleges is the pacing.  Whereas most colleges are on a 16 week basis, Columbia is on an eight week basis making it an accelerated learning experience.

Classes only meet once a week, however classes are all about four hours long. Allare has mentioned that this sort of learning is likely to keep students more structured, while allowing them plenty of free time.

Instead of semesters, Columbia goes by “sessions”,  having six sessions per year. This means that two sessions are equal to about a semester.  This allows students to come in and out of schooling whenever they choose to, and it’s accelerated pace allows them to get ahead whenever they would like to.

So the school’s programs are geared toward flexibility, with a popular demographic being students who lead busy lives. The only drawback is there are fewer degree options compared to say, NIU.  The main degrees are in Business, Criminal Justice, a few in Psychology, Human Services and what is called a General Studies degree.

There are lots of other perks, like dual counseling with both Columbia and ECC staff for example, that students can get through Columbia College that can be explained by Allare in building K.

So, I got the chance to speak to two students that attended Columbia and asked them about their experiences at Columbia.

The first was Habacuc Rico,  a former Army military police officer, Rico was in the army for seven years, saying it was the best job he ever had.  Prior to joining Columbia, Rico was also the president of the Veteran’s Club at ECC.

I asked Rico about his situation at Columbia,  and he informed me that he was graduating this May, and stated he has only been going to Columbia for about nine months.

Speaking about the transition from ECC to Columbia, Rico mentioned that the first session was difficult, as the classes were four hours long and there was a huge spike in amount of homework he was assigned. After getting acclimated to the school, Rico was happy to be going through school as fast as he was going.

Talking about the school,  Rico found that almost all of his credits from ECC were transferred over to Columbia,  another advantage of the partnership of ECC and Columbia. Also a veteran, he was able get military credits transferred over as well, greatly aiding him in finishing up his degree.

Getting his Bachelor’s in General Studies and a minor in Criminal Justice, Rico wanted to use his degree to get his Master’s in Social Work.  He wanted to use this degree to work at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as a Social Worker.  If not, perhaps he would become a Social Worker for Juveniles or Senior Citizens.

Also graduating in May is Tanayry Perez.  Tanayry was sort of hard to get an interview with, as she’s working night shifts as a Janitor at Wheeling High School, and I assume had to sleep during the day.

Asking about her education, Tanayry mentioned that she graduated High School in 2013, Immediately starting courses at ECC in the Summer, having finished up her associate’s in criminal justice in 2015.

I was curious as to why she chose Columbia College, and asked her.  She said that since she was paying for her own schooling without any sort of financial aid, she looked at her options and saw that it was considerably cheaper to attend Columbia College.

For her it was convenient that she wouldn’t have to pay any sort of room and board fees, she could just go to the same campus she had already been going to, and all her credits transferred over.

I asked her about her experience going to Columbia, and she said she enjoyed it.  Some classes are considered “Hybrid” classes that use elements of traditional teaching with computer-based learning, which she said is helpful.

Tanayry mentioned that all of her counselors really helped make the transition from ECC to Columbia College as smooth as possible.

Just like at ECC, much of Tanayry’s teachers were current or ex-police officers or attorneys, so she felt comfortable that she was being taught by professionals with much experience in law,  something she aspires to uphold as a police officer herself.

In the end, it seems that Columbia College is geared towards students who lead busy lives, those who are planning to get into their field as fast as possible, and those who may have a tight financial situation.  It seems like a perfect place to students to finish up their degrees after ECC, and the benefits that go along with it are incredibly helpful as well.

If you’re interested in attending Columbia College of Missouri, you can speak to Allare in the E building, room 205, or call him at 847-214-7641.

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Students speak on the Benefits of Columbia College of Missouri