In today’s economy, many graduating high school seniors are facing the reality that they may not be able to start college right away. Financial constraints often force them to work for a year and maybe take a few local community college courses before beginning their formal college education. Parents and pastors are often concerned that these students will succumb to secular influences while at the community colleges.
In response to these needs of students and parents, Maranatha has developed the Bridge to Campus program and has sites up and running for the 2013-2014 academic year. Through a combination of virtual, online, and face-to-face courses, a student can complete his or her freshman year in a Christian college atmosphere before setting foot on Maranatha’s main campus.
Residential or Commuter Types
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.
Each residential learning center has a different atmosphere. For instance, Southland Christian Camp in Louisiana is planning special events, such as taking students to fine arts event in nearby Shreveport; Wolf Mountain Christian Camp in California has a full retreat schedule where students manage, host, and work in ministry events at the camp throughout the year.
In contrast to the residential learning center, the commuter style learning center is hosted by a local church, such as Anchor Baptist Church in Maryland. Commuting students gain the Maranatha experience much like an off-campus student at Maranatha in Watertown.
Students at a learning center may be either full- or part-time. Every Bridge student must be recommended for acceptance at Maranatha by the learning center coordinator.
Of the three modalities used in Bridge to Campus – virtual, online, and face-to-face – the virtual course delivery is the one that connects them 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,” said Dr. Jeff Crum, Maranatha’s director of Online and Distance Learning. “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.”
The equipment also allows recording and archiving of classes for students who miss a class or have a special scheduling need, and Maranatha is exploring options for mobile accessibility for individuals.
To round out the freshman course offering, an on-site instructor may teach one or two courses in his or her field of expertise, and students can choose from more than 125 online courses through Maranatha Online. Bridge to Campus and Maranatha’s broad offering of online coursework provides affordable and accessible solutions to students of all ages.
“We’re excited about our breadth of accomplishment so far,” Crum said. “We have confirmed the excellence of our quality, and we see unlimited potential to keep growing in this direction. The Bridge to Campus Learning Centers and main campus provide a Maranatha education in the North, South, East, and West.”
Ministries interested in hosting a learning center may contact Dr. Crum at email@example.com. Also, donors desiring to exponentially multiply their stewardship by making a Maranatha education accessible and affordable to those who can’t come to Wisconsin are encouraged to contact Dr. Crum.