Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California, is the largest of three community colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District, serving more than 22,000 students between its core campus and 8 other satellite locations. Offering two year degrees since 1949 (when it was teaching out of high schools and banks), it was given its present location in 1952 and changed its name from East Contra Costa Junior College to its current moniker in 1958.
DVC has evolved in the intervening years to become one of the premier institutions in California for students looking to bridge the gap between high school and a four year college. However, adult students looking to increase knowledge in their chosen profession make up the second largest grouping, leading to a number of online and hybrid classes designed to take work and life into account.
Offering associate degrees and certification programs for over 50 years, Diablo’s over 600 full and part-time faculty are either former professionals or highly degreed and work closely with both on-campus and distance learners. Popular majors from the over 57 occupational specialties include General Studies (as most continue on to a four year school), Criminal Justice, and Business. The low graduation rate at DVC can mostly be attributed to the fine accreditation program it shares with most California four year schools, allowing for most credit (if not all, in some cases)to be easily transferred to a school with a Bachelor program, though the school offers several month, one year, and two year certificates in addition to the Associate’s degrees.
For most, online and hybrid courses at Diablo will also fulfill the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) as well as those classes taken on campus. While only some of the online classes offered will meet on campus, all require the same dedication and time that traditional classes would. Utilizing their course management system called WebCT, they offer not only full access to course materials, but also advice on everything from which programs to download/update to advice on how to properly take their online offerings.
Diablo offers online/hybrid catalogues for each of their three semesters, not only listing requirements, but also laying out necessary textbooks and number of in class sessions. Faculty are available in much the same fashion as their on campus counterparts, with access not only by phone, but through email, chat boards, and video chats. While there will often be times when all students should be online concurrently, most of the time scheduling work and reading required materials are left to the student to maintain. Assignments and quizzes aside, learning is done at the students pace, around their busy schedule, but allowing for the same education.
DVC offers over 2600 courses to both college age and adult students, with some free courses offered to those just looking to learn a bit more, much of it offered online. Combined with its access to so many satellite campuses and the tendency to accept transfer credits, not only does Diablo offer a sound educational foundation, but allows for learning well after degrees have been handed out, and at a price lower than most community colleges in the nation.