Something for everyone
Many high school seniors today find themselves facing the reality that they may not be able to start college right away due to financial constraints. Many adults also find themselves wanting to finish a degree begun years earlier or to earn a master’s degree, whether for promotion, professional development, or personal fulfillment.
In response, Maranatha offers a variety of online and blended programs through Maranatha’s Office of Online and Distance Learning. “Our department covers all online and distance learning classes,” shared Dr. Jeff Crum, director of online and distance learning. “The online part of what we do includes dual credit classes for high school students, bachelor degree completion, Bible certificates, and our seminary programs. Distance learning includes our Bridge to Campus learning centers, where students attend classes at Maranatha’s Watertown, WI campus virtually.”
A closer look at Distance Learning | Bridge to Campus
For college freshmen, the Bridge to Campus program has learning centers up and running for the 2013-2014 school year. Through a combination of virtual, online, and face-to-face courses, a student can complete his or her freshman year in a regionally accredited, Christian college atmosphere before arriving on Maranatha’s main campus.
Virtual course delivery is the modality that connects these students directly to Maranatha’s campus. It uses Polycom technology for real-time, high-definition video conferencing to join the Maranatha classroom with the learning center’s classroom.
“You can see and raise your hand and be heard. It’s two-way, interactive video,” Crum explained. “In addition to people interacting back and forth, they can also share content like video and PowerPoint, because each classroom has two screens–one with people, the other with content.”
Bridge to Campus utilizes two types of learning centers: residential and commuter. At a residential learning center, students live and work at a camp while taking courses as a group, much like a work study program. The camp directors have a mentoring program for the students, and because students live and learn together, they can experience many of the group dynamics of college life.
For instance, Mike Herbster at Southland Christian Camp in Louisiana said the Bridge to Campus program has opened another arena of discipleship for students at his camp. His burden is for young people to have an education with a Christian worldview.
“I have seen young people floundering in the world,” he said. “I want this to be a place where they can come and nurture a passion for Christ in a familiar place away from home, so they can reach their full potential.”
Part of helping young people reach that potential is the discipleship program at Southland, which goes along with the Bridge to Campus program. This mentoring program includes small group sessions, weekly one-on-one sessions, a Bible study schedule, and “accountability, accountability, accountability,” according to Herbster. Ministering in local churches is also required, as well as serving in the camp ministry.
“My burden is the development of the whole student from a Christian worldview with a conservative perspective,” Herbster said.
Because of the Bridge to Campus program, Southland has been able to expand its camp program from a full-time summer camp program with a few retreats, to a year-round ministry.
In contrast to the residential learning center, the commuter style learning center is hosted by a local church and operates during office hours. Commuting students gain the Maranatha experience much like off-campus students at Maranatha in Watertown.
“We’re excited about our breadth of accomplishment so far,” Crum said, “and we will add centers as the Lord directs. In fact, several ministries are discussing the possibilities now.”
Ministries interested in hosting a learning center may contact Dr. Crum at email@example.com. Centers that plan to open in the fall of 2014 need to commit early to allow for recruitment time. Donors who desire to multiply their stewardship by making a Maranatha education accessible to those who can’t come to Wisconsin are encouraged to contact Dr. Crum. For a full explanation of Bridge to Campus and to explore our listing of classes, visit www.bridgetocampus.org.
Meet Matthew Sheeley, a student from Kansas City, Missouri. Matthew is studying youth ministries and has been enrolled in Bridge to Campus since fall 2013.
“The interaction between staff members and the classes is great and would make a transition into Maranatha easy. It’s a cool thing to be able to take classes while still living my life down here at the camp, but I am looking forward to going to campus in the future.” – Matthew Sheeley
Jessica Fuller is from Joshua, Texas, and is working towards a nursing degree. She’s attended Bridge to Campus since fall 2013.
“It is such a great experience to be a part of Maranatha, even though some of us distance students are in Louisiana. I especially love Mr. Miller’s Fundamentals of Public Speaking over the Polycom. He makes the class fun and helps us get to know the on-campus students by having them interact with us before the start of class.
Overall, I would recommend a Bridge to Campus program to any incoming college freshman who may not be close to Watertown and wants to attend Maranatha and still be closer to home. It is amazing and life changing.” – Jessica Fuller