HARVARD – Post-secondary education will get a lot closer this fall for the county community farthest from McHenry County College.
MCC will offer a four-semester, Harvard-based associate's degree track starting in the fall. The program will be predominately based at the District 50 administrative offices and feature a class load mainly set in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate students with jobs, District 50 spokesman Bill Clow said.
The program will make it much easier on a community facing transportation issues, and with no public transportation options to and from the college's Crystal Lake campus, Clow said.
"We do have a lot of people where that is a little bit of a haul for them from Harvard," he said.
The program builds on MCC's integration into the city, which started when the school began offering select classes a couple years ago. About 160 students have taken classes in MCC's three semesters in Harvard – though, because of the way the enrollment statistics were compiled, some could be semester-to-semester repeats, said Lori Keller, associate dean of humanities and social sciences at the school.
The associate's degree track will offer a chance to earn the basic two-year requirements needed to transfer to a four-year institution.
"There won't be a lot of elective choices, but some of the literature and research indicates that some students succeed and more rapidly finish their degree when the path is clear for them," Keller said.
She added the school anticipates some current MCC students from Harvard, but attending classes in Crystal Lake, will choose to take classes in their hometown. The idea could work the other way, eventually. Once their paths of study become clear, students who start in Harvard could decide to commute to Crystal Lake for classes not offered in their community, Keller said.
District 50 and MCC officials have been in talks to iron out the details. Clow said he's unsure how many students will enroll, but he expects a rich set of backgrounds – not just recent graduates.
"What we've been doing is trying to work with them, providing them space to have the classes," he said. "Most are going to be in the Central Administration building."
Officials hope to better gauge the community's needs and preferences at an upcoming open house for the program. The event is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at District 50's main office, 401 N. Division St., Harvard.