Online classes help athlete juggle multiple balls

By Chris Cunningham

Makenzie FicekIf it weren't for online courses, student Makenzie Ficek says she might not have the time to play on the Lane Community College Titan basketball team.

No matter the hour or the town she is in, Makenzie, a shooting guard and point guard for the Titans, is able to log onto her course website almost everyday for lectures, assignments and tests. The flexibility to manage her own classroom time allows her to participate in practices and out-of-town games.

By taking online classes, 19-year-old Makenzie explains, "I don't have to miss anything."

The Titans have won 79 home games in a row over the last seven years—a national record. They've also won three Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championships in the last four years.

Add to athletics a full-time class load and part-time job, Makenzie says it's likely she wouldn't be able to complete her AAOT degree in 2011, if not for online options. She is attending Lane on a basketball scholarship.

Since enrolling in fall 2009, Makenzie has completed online classes in computer sciences, anthropology, and two health education courses from instructor Sharrie Herbold-Sheley.

Makenzie, who is leaning toward a career in nursing or teaching, says Sharrie personalizes her online health classes with weekly newsletters and friendly reminders about upcoming tests.

Lane instructors organize their online courses much like they do their physical classrooms—using lectures, assigning reading, and giving quizzes and exams. However, Makenzie says without the face-to-face contact of the classroom, she needs to be more disciplined in her study habits.

Yet, chatting with other students in online forums and e-mailing with instructors keep the course content dynamic, Makenzie says. "Any time I had a question, Sharrie would reply right back."

Online classes are just one of the many advantages of attending Lane, Makenzie says. "I think Lane is a really good place to start. It's an especially good place to figure out what you want to do."

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