ENID, Okla. — With campuses located in Enid, Stillwater and Tonkawa, Northern Oklahoma College can offer various opportunities to a wide range of students.

Jeremy Hise, NOC-Enid vice president, said there are multiple ways in which these three campuses work together to attract more students and offer a strong, appealing curriculum to students.

“Whatever the student is looking for — we have that opportunity available for them at Northern Oklahoma College,” Hise said.

‘A team approach’

NOC was established in Tonkawa in 1901, and the two other NOC campuses in Enid and Stillwater were developed just more than 20 years ago.

NOC’s executive council meets weekly to discuss what’s going on at each individual campus and how they’re working toward set goals, but Diana Watkins, NOC-Stillwater vice president and interim vice president of academic affairs, said the communication outside of those meetings is very strong, as well.

“It really is a team approach,” Watkins said.

All three campuses provide similar, consistent experiences in terms of instructors, technology and degrees — 38 of NOC’s 49 degree programs are offered on all three campuses, Hise said, but students still have different options with the three “beautiful” campuses.

‘Matter of comfort’

Tonkawa’s campus has a more rural feel, which appeals to some students. Enid’s campus offers the opportunity to live in a larger city. Still others might want smaller class sizes but to live in a “big university environment” like Stillwater’s campus offers.

“It’s more of a matter of comfort,” Hise said. “‘What do you want out of the town that you’re living in?’ That’s the primary thing we offer. It’s not so much that it’s different or better. It’s just a matter of what your preferences are.”

Accessibility, flexibility

One program offered on all three campuses is nursing. Nikole Hicks, division chair of nursing at NOC, said while traditional students enroll in the nursing program, many are second- and third-career students who have families.

For those non-traditional students, Hicks said it can be difficult, especially in rural areas, to take on college on top of a full-time job and/or a family. That’s how NOC having three campuses can help.

“They need to have an option that’s close to them — that is convenient for them — so that they can make school work in their schedule,” Hicks said.

Faculty in the nursing program work together as a team to teach courses and communicate a lot to make sure each campuses’ needs are met each week.

Sometimes, instructors travel to other campuses other than where they are based so students can have the same access.

Each instructor has a different area of expertise and brings his or her own area of practice, giving the students access to the right faculty with the right expertise.

“That enables us to assign the faculty to the courses that they are experts in,” Hicks said. “We even have faculty who teach across different levels … so they can teach that specialty content across all of the courses so that the students have the best opportunity for learning from the one who’s the most experienced with that content. … That’s really great for the students because they have the ability to learn from multiple faculty across the three campuses.”

Getting technical

Technology has helped connect the campuses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Traditional online classes and online live courses have increased tremendously, Watkins said, and allows students more flexibility and access to different instructors and courses.

“If I’ve got a student in Stillwater who really wants to take a class that we don’t offer in Stillwater … (technology) allows them to take the coursework without having to do (the drive to Enid or Tonkawa),” Watkins said.

Creating success stories

NOC works closely with partner institutions like Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma State University to help make any transitions as smooth and effective as possible for students.

“We want to assist our students,” Hise said. “Whether … they’re going to graduate from (NOC) and go into the workforce, or whether they’re transferring to Northwestern, OSU or OU — whatever their goal is, we want to do everything we can to be able to assist them with that.”

Watkins said instructors from NOC and the partner institutions meet to ensure that curriculum all aligns for those students planning to continue education either through the NOC-NWOSU Bridge or NOC-OSU Gateway programs. She added that although NOC has some terminal degrees, many NOC students will need to go on from the junior college level to get a bachelor’s degree.

“We want to be sure that we’re providing them with all the tools that they need to go do that,” she said.

Students in high schools throughout Garfield, Kay and Payne counties have concurrent enrollment opportunities thanks to NOC having three campuses.

This helps the students better understand college courses and also establishes an element of comfort, which may lead to students choosing to go to NOC after graduating high school.

“At times, that can help with recruitment,” Hise said, “and then at other times we’re also providing students with the confidence that they need to say, ‘I can go to OSU. I can go to Northwestern, and I can be successful.’ That’s a success story for us, as well.”

Article by: Kelci McKendrick, Enid News & Eagle 3.6.22

Photo by: Billy Hefton