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Monday, September 27, 2021

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The College of Extended Studies has become SDSU World Campus with a mission of making the university more accessible to students. The College of Extended Studies has become SDSU World Campus with a mission of making the university more accessible to students.
 


New Name, New Mission: College of Extended Studies is Now SDSU World Campus

For students like Wendy Moyeda, the university’s availability and impact extend far beyond its borders.
By Tobin Vaughn
 

“I can’t take a regular class because there’s no way I could fit that into my schedule with everything else I have going on. This was perfect for me because it’s all online.”

Learn more about SDSU World Campus at worldcampus.sdsu.edu.

Wendy Moyeda
(’05) teaches, runs her own photography business, and has her hands full raising four kids ages 4 through 10.  She is industrious, goal-oriented and smart, having graduated from San Diego State University summa cum laude.

Sometime this spring, she hopes to gain acceptance to SDSU’s speech-language pathology master’s program. She has been taking prerequisite courses online through the former College of Extended Studies, but her non-traditional path to becoming a pathologist is narrower than most.

“I can’t take a regular class because there’s no way I could fit that into my schedule with everything else I have going on,” Moyeda said. “This was perfect for me because it’s all online.”

She is not alone. Increasingly, students of all ages are working their educations around their careers and other commitments. 

Traditional is non-traditional

That’s why the College of Extended Studies has become SDSU World Campus with a mission of making the university more accessible to students with a broader range of goals, needs, circumstances – and locations. “Our aim is to take what we do really well on campus to the rest of the world,” said SDSU World Campus Dean Radhika Seshan.

It’s an overdue response to the new reality that large numbers of learners lack the resources of time, money and attention that must be dedicated to maintaining the classic college experience.  

“Nationwide, the traditional student is nontraditional,” said Seshan, who defines the typical nontraditional student as someone in their upper 20s or early 30s with a family and a full-time job. These students pace their learning and schedule it predictably to accommodate work, travel, family life and other commitments.

“They are going to get it done no matter what; it’s a question of how,” Seshan said. “These are people who don’t have time to hunt around looking for different resources on campus.”

Easing application and enrollment processes for these students is now a priority for SDSU World Campus. Consolidation and centralization are at the heart of a major overhaul designed to attract online learners to SDSU and retain them through degree completion.

A new model

A new service model is required, and SDSU World Campus Executive Director of Marketing Joe Brock is a key staff member tasked with leading its development. He is coordinating collaboration among SDSU World Campus departments to a transition away from the long-standing system wherein prospective students bounce among campus departments with different offices for financial aid, student account services or advising, and move toward a concierge-style model with a single contact point. 
 
“They would have a go-to staff member to navigate all the back-and-forth and make it as simple for them as possible,” Brock explained.

He said another consideration is providing adult learners with more start dates for their programs by revising the current system of delaying their studies until the next cohort begins.  His office is exploring possibilities with other campus entities to allow multiple starting points in programs where adult learners may be allowed to “jump in” based on what their personal or professional schedules may accommodate.

“Overwhelmingly, simplifying the enrollment registration process is higher on the list of improvements they would like to see from us.” Brock said.

Filling the need

Dean Seshan sees a growing need for online learning, but little movement among California’s public universities toward filling it. “California needs one million more degrees by 2030,” she said. “How are we going to get them? It’s all about getting more students graduated and into the (job) market.” 

She cites Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University as vanguards  in online learning. She believes SDSU is one of the best-positioned universities in the state to help meet California’s growing workforce demands.  

“Our identity is broad enough to reach beyond San Diego,” Seshan explained. “We have a national brand, are one of the top 10 most applied-to schools in the country, and we have a lot of what I would say are understated partnerships across the border. It’s just part of who we are.

“So our community is naturally international - binational for sure. We enjoy - and always have - this wonderful combination of reasons to be here.”

Right place, right time

Seshan has been with SDSU World Campus for 18 months following stints as associate dean of business development and chief operating officer for UCLA Extension and as executive director of Continuing Education Programs for Bellevue College in Seattle. Before entering higher education, her career was centered in high tech.

For the mission she is undertaking, it would seem she is the right person in the right place at exactly the right time.

“For me, this is the best place to do something like this because SDSU has an amazing dedicated approach to developing the workforce that is very intrinsic to the way we think about leaders. I am so struck by the strength, wisdom, leadership and overall workforce powerhouse that our alumni represent.”

In class versus online

SDSU World Campus is something Moyeda thinks other online learners will appreciate.  Anything that makes life less hectic is welcome.  

“The only time I can ever do anything is when my kids are asleep,” she said. “I just do my online stuff after they are in bed and that has been great for me.”

Speaking as an alumna who graduated with honors after spending time in a traditional university setting, Moyeda believes the online instruction she has received compares favorably to her classroom experience.

“For the most part,” she said, “the courses I took online have been everything I expected from San Diego State.”

Learn more about SDSU World Campus at worldcampus.sdsu.edu.