University Center Allows Santa Clarita Residents to Stay Close to Home

by Cougar News Staff 396 views0

By Josh Husereau – Cougar News Contributor

What if you could take your upper division and graduate classes for a university while still staying on the College of the Canyons campus?

To many, this would be a great convenience and would allow them to advance to their education while still managing other life aspects. Attending a university in one’s own community is a rare opportunity. The Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center gives students in the surrounding area a chance to continue their college education without traveling far from home.

The University Center was introduced in 2009 and has come a long way from when it was constructed. Today, the center has 23 “smart” classrooms, two computer labs, six meeting/seminar rooms and a lecture hall or theater, depending on which course is being taught. Its mission is to allow students to take upper division and graduate level courses offered by partnering universities, with hopes of expanding its course selection and other academic offerings in the near future. This cohesive agreement has brought in such universities as Brandman University, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Northridge, National University and the University of La Verne within walking distance for a COC student.

Of these universities, CSUB offers the most courses. The courses offered are diverse, and for those looking to get their bachelor’s degree in communications, English, liberal studies or sociology, they will not have to travel far to do so. According to the College Search website, it cost $7,041 to live on the CSUB campus in fall 2010. The rising costs of room and board, as well as commuting, influence one’s decision on whether or not to attend a university. The University Center helps the student save on these costs.

A recent phone interview with Cathy Ritz, Chief Operating Officer of Foundation and University Center Operations, provided insight into the University Center’s admittance requirements and courses that are offered. Classes are available from 5-10 p.m. on weekdays, and are also offered on Saturdays. This makes it more convenient for students who may also be taking courses on the COC campus. Ritz describes how “students will go to College of the Canyons first to get their associate’s degree or fulfill their lower division requirements, and then transfer directly into one of the University Center programs.” Once admitted into one of the programs, a student can then take the necessary courses to earn their bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate. Their corresponding university’s professors teach the courses. Of all the universities, Brandman University is the one campus that has a full-time counselor available at the center. There have been about 1,500 students that have graduated from the University Center according to the most recent statistics from December 2010.

The University Center is an educational facility that offers more resources than many students know about. Instead of driving to one’s university of choice and having to commute or live on campus, a student can continue their educational preparation towards their major from the comfort of their own community. A university degree does not need to involve long commutes, but a short trip to the University Center can make any local university-bound student’s goal a reality.