Columbia College welcomes variety of students

Monday, August 24, 2009 | 6:18 p.m. CDT; updated 7:04 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 24, 2009
Miranda Brinsa, 19, left, greets her friends after purchasing supplies at the bookstore in the Atkins-Holman Student Commons on the Columbia College campus on Monday. Brinsa and her friends, from left, Jillian Rathert, 20; Keriann Russell, 21; Chris Hawkins, 20; and Jamila Kerr, 21, chose to attend Columbia College because of its smaller size. "The professors know who I am; I'm not just a face in the crowd," Brinsa said.

COLUMBIA — At Columbia College's first day of classes, dozens of students roamed the campus on the sunny Monday afternoon. Among them was Roy McSorley, 42, a business major and former member of Air Force.

McSorley is a freshman and beginning his first college experience. “Right now, I’m just trying to figure out the difference between being in the military and being a civilian,” he said.

College spokesman Neal Fandek said first-day enrollment totaled nearly 1,200 students for the day campus in Columbia; the college has more than 30 other campuses nationwide and a thriving online program.

“So far, we’ve seen a 6.5 percent increase in adult higher education from the 2008-09 school year,” Fandek said. “That number encompasses our evening and online classes, as well as our nationwide campus totals.”

McSorley is enrolled in economics, history and English along with other general education requirements. He said his expectation for the school year is to enjoy the new experience of college life.

“I just want to survive it and try not to screw up too bad,” he said.

McSorley noted the importance of the small student-to-faculty ratio at Columbia College, which, according to the school's Web site, is 14 to 1. “The classes so far are laid back compared to what I’m used to, and the professors seem connected,” he said.

Judy Shaw, a piano instructor at the college, also has high hopes for the new school year. Though the college does not yet offer a music major, Shaw hopes students will keep taking her classes.

“I have one student who could be considered an older adult, but I usually see college-age students,” she said. “Adults generally take evening classes.”

Shaw said she looks forward to teaching her students. “The most rewarding thing for me is to see someone get it when they play the piano,” Shaw said.

Nursing senior Meghan Kouba, 23, has a different perspective on the beginning of the semester. Because she takes online and evening classes, Kouba’s schedule varies.

“I started my online classes Monday, but I go to my evening classes on campus,” she said. “I would love to take classes during the day, but they would conflict with my schedule.”

A Columbia resident who hopes to pursue acute care after graduation, Kouba said she is excited to be back in school because she likes the routine. “I’m looking forward to being back in the swing of things and starting my clinicals at the hospital,” she said.

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