SUNY Flips the Switch

Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.

During SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s 2014 State of the University Address on Jan. 14 she introduced the Open SUNY program.  Open SUNY offers eight new online degree programs as well as making all 12,000 online courses offered within SUNY available to all SUNY students.

The program was created to allow the 6.9 million New Yorkers who have a high school diploma, but no college education able to receive one. Its function is to also help to prepare citizens for 2025, when it’s estimated that 60 percent of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree.

We at The New Paltz Oracle applaud SUNY for making higher education accessible to those who might not have had an opportunity to earn one.

The rising cost of higher education means that higher education isn’t always accessible to potential students. Also, people have other responsibilities in life that don’t always allow them to spend the necessary to actually attend classes in person, so having online classes available allows them the opportunity to earn an education.

We also applaud SUNY New Paltz for looking to increase their use of online education. It is often difficult for students to sign up for a class they are required to take during the fall and spring semesters, so having the ability to earn this credit during the summer or winter allows students to become one step closer to earning their degree. This also helps students complete their general education requirements, which often become difficult to complete in four years without taking an online class.

New Paltz President Donald Christian said when faculty teach an online class, it allows them to learn new approaches to educating students, which then translates to how they teach classes in person.

We believe faculty’s ability to do this is beneficial because they are not only educating students, but are also learning new skills to teach students in the most effective way possible. By teaching an online class, faculty have the ability to learn a new way of reaching students that they might not have ever learned or thought of by just physically teaching in classes. These skills will help both their current and future students.

While it’s great that SUNY is allowing people who might not have had the ability to receive a higher education the resources to receive one, administration has said that the primary focus of the student body is on face-to-face courses, which isn’t expected to change because of the increase in online courses.

At the end of the day, New Paltz isn’t going to become an online university, so the education that takes place on campus is the primary focus of the students and needs to remain the primary focus of the administration.

As Open SUNY progresses, we hope the amount of classes that are offered to students increase, while keeping the costs low enough to allow people to attend.  This is crucial because if costs do rise, people who don’t have the money to pay for these classes, but still desire a higher education won’t have the ability to earn one.

Overall, Open SUNY is a program that our state should be proud of, but its creation is just the first step.  Now people need to spread the world and tell their peers who would benefit the most from the program, so they can receive the higher education they rightfully deserve.