LEWISTON, Idaho – Kay Mathews DeFrancesco has been pursuing a college education since 1963 – but life has always gotten in the way. Health complications have been an obstacle, family obligations have taken top priority, and present-day travel limitations have made attending college and obtaining the degree she wants almost impossible.
That is, until she took Lewis-Clark State College’s new online learning introductory course in the fall. The 71-year-old, who has attended five different colleges as time has permitted over the past 50-plus years, says the course, entitled “SD 192: Introduction to Online Coursework,” was exactly what she was looking for.
“I need six more classes to get my degree, and I want to do it before I turn 75,” said DeFrancesco, who now plans to take a couple of courses each semester in pursuit of a degree in Justice Studies. “I started the online class knowing practically nothing about a computer. It’s a real eye-opener and I highly recommend it for anyone. I don’t care what age.”
For DeFrancesco, the course and, more specifically, online learning has given her the opportunity to finish something she started when she enrolled at Butte Business College to become a librarian in the 1960s. Her early experiences with higher education were rough as she battled poor health and worked odd jobs to pay for school.
The product of Weippe (Idaho) High School went on to attend both the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College, but all coursework came to an end in the 1970s when she married and started a family. A couple of decades later, she returned to school with weekend classes at Boise State University. In 2000, she moved to the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, area and has been taking classes on and off at LCSC’s Coeur d’Alene Center ever since.
“I believe in learning and getting the most out of life and that’s what I’m trying to do,” DeFrancesco said.
Today, not wanting to make the commute to class every day from her home in Rathdrum, Idaho, DeFrancesco feels she has found a great solution in online learning at Lewis-Clark State College. This spring she has her sights set on math and policing courses, in the summer it’ll be a couple classes online, and then a couple more Justice Studies upper division courses in the fall.
For Lewis-Clark State College, a school which prides itself in making higher education available to all, DeFrancesco’s story stands as a testament to its efforts to find new and improved ways to meet people where they are and take them where they want to go.
“Online courses and programs of study, whether fully or partially online, are important options for those who cannot travel to campus or easily attend courses due to work or family obligations,” said Lori Stinson, LCSC provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This one-credit introductory, pass/fail course, allows new and continuing students to explore the learning management system, Blackboard Learn, and become familiar with the online learning environment.”
Lewis-Clark State College plans to offer two sections of “Introduction to Online Coursework” in the spring, one beginning on Feb. 1 and the other on March 14. The six-week course is available to students of all ages and backgrounds for $50. Those interested must fill out an application and register for the course before the first day of class, and space is limited. To apply, or to receive more information, contact the admissions office at 208-792-2210 or [email protected].
“What I like about college now is that you don’t have to completely start over if you make a mistake like you did on typewriters, and they have microphones now where you can record the instructors,” DeFrancesco said. “Also, back in the 60s they didn’t have spellcheck.“
Though the college experience has changed a lot over the years, DeFrancesco says the need for people to continue learning at all ages remains as strong as ever.
“Enjoy life but take some classes and get your mind working. The more you use your brain the better off you are.”