FAQs for Flagship Students
FAQs for Flagship Students continuing or completing their degrees in Hybrid Learning due to the suspension of in-person classes at Unity College.
Why are we switching to a new calendar and learning online?
It was our hope to begin the regular Flagship fall semester with in-person classes on campus on Monday, August 24. However, there is a high likelihood that our classes would be disrupted by a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. Even if we implemented our social distancing plan for in-person instruction, we would likely have to suspend face-to-face classes midway through the semester. In that case we would default to the same circumstance we had after spring break: twelve or more credits taught remotely at one time. No one wants to see that happen again.
We also considered delaying the resumption of instruction to January 2021. This is not a good option either. Putting your education on hold for six months has consequences. Your momentum may slow, your memory of necessary content may fade, and your entry into the job market would be held back. Even a short delay in your progress can have lasting effects on your lifetime earnings.
Instead of social distancing or delay, Unity College is pursuing a third path. This May we developed a new academic calendar that provides students the ability to take courses online, in-person, or to do both at the same time. Classes are held in five-week sessions with eight terms per year. We call it Hybrid Learning. The benefit of Hybrid Learning is that you can be enrolled full time with only a single three-credit course, instead of the four or five courses required by the semester-long Flagship calendar. You can take up to six credits a session. This calendar provides a more sustainable remote option at an affordable price: $470 per online credit, $550 for in-person credits. The eight distinct, stand-alone terms (three in the fall, three in the spring, and two in the summer) allow for multiple opportunities to reassess the safety of a campus return to in-person learning, and the online backup allows for quick pivots to remote learning in case of future coronavirus disruptions. We believe that Hybrid Learning provides you the best opportunity to continue or complete your education without interruption.
Some colleges are choosing to hold in-person classes in the fall, why not Unity?
While some schools, like Bates and Purdue, are planning to resume in-person classes in the fall, others, like Harvard and colleges making up the California State System, will conduct most classes online. In plotting a course forward, Unity’s prime concern has been the health of our students, staff, and community. Although many of our students are local to New England, where Covid-19 cases are declining, a substantial number live in, or have visited, states where cases are rising. Given how contagious the virus is, this means that everyone involved would be at risk if we all came together again – however much we would like to do that. While in-person learning could, in theory, work by mandating masks, plexiglass shields, social distancing, bans on community gatherings, etc., the residential experience would inevitably suffer in ways that we, frankly, cannot justify, especially in light of the very real possibility of having to send everyone back home in response to the predicted second wave of Covid-19 after just having opened.
Do I have to change my major to a Hybrid Learning degree?
No. All Unity College students can continue or complete their Flagship degrees within Hybrid Learning. This means that you will be able to complete your degree with your current major (e.g., Sustainable Agriculture) and do not need to choose one of the five HL majors (although you are free to do so). You will also be able to complete a second major and/or a minor to the extent possible. Please note that, as with Flagship, courses for second majors and minors are not guaranteed to fit within your schedule.
Is this change permanent? Can I switch back to the Flagship calendar later?
Given the current state of the coronavirus pandemic and the predictive modeling for the coming months, we anticipate that all students will continue or complete their degree online in the Hybrid calendar for the foreseeable future. Perhaps for an entire academic year. Of course, we will continue to reassess and revise our plans as the situation changes. If and when the Flagship resumes in-person learning, students can opt to return to that calendar.
What effect will this have on my financial aid?
The shift to a nonstandard calendar allows Unity College to offer more affordable options to all students. Online classes (such as all students will be taking this year) cost only $470 per credit hour. In-person classes (when we are able to resume them safely) cost only $550 per credit hour. All students will also pay a modest comprehensive fee that covers a range of non-academic services (such as remote access to the Wellness Center). Overall, the cost of attending Unity College on the nonstandard calendar is significantly less than attending as a residential student on the Flagship calendar. For that reason, students on nonstandard calendar do not receive institutional aid or merit scholarships from the college to attend. All of your external financial aid will still be available, and work study opportunities will be available when we resume in-person instruction. For aid to remain available, you must pass at least 12 credits and complete 20 weeks of attendance by the end of the fourth term. Sherry McCollett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-509-7201 in the Financial Aid department will be able to discuss your financials.
Will my academic advisor change?
Hybrid Learning students will be assigned to a Learning Coach. They will work with that Coach for the entire time they are enrolled in HL. Coaches support students in planning their schedules, selecting courses, and overcoming any challenges they might face when engaging in the learning experience. Students can still rely on their instructors for career advice and mentoring.
If the sessions are shorter, will I receive grades and feedback in a timely way?
Yes. In the Hybrid Learning calendar, all courses are offered in 5-week sessions, so the pace at which learners encounter subject matter is accelerated. This means that prompt and regular feedback is extremely important. HL students will have graded assignments weekly and feedback will be provided within 72 hours.
What will my classes be like?
Whether in-person or online, we continue to be committed to highly experiential learning, which means that all of our classes will require students to engage with the learning community and apply concepts and skills to various real-world contexts. Both in-person and online courses are supported by our Learning Management System, Canvas. This tool provides students with access to course materials, discussion boards, announcements, and an up-to-date record of their grade. All instructors, both in-person and online, are required to use Canvas and keep assessment records current. All online classes will be delivered asynchronously.
What if I have internet or computer issues?
If you are experiencing internet or computer issues there are many avenues to assist you. The HelpDesk at Unity College can answer your technology and canvas questions M-F 8am-10pm Sat 9-5 Sunday 2-10pm (subject to change) by emailing email@example.com from your unity account or by calling 207-509-7110. For other issues please contact Dean of Students, Ray Phinney
What is going to happen to the athletic season now that there are no in-person activities?
Unity College is continuously evaluating the athletic season closely with the YSCC and USCAA. The athletic conference member organizations are currently making contingency plans to continue athletic competitions in Spring 2021.
I am in the middle of my summer internship, is that affected by this decision?
No, you can complete your internship as planned. If you have any questions regarding internships, you can contact Rachel Kahn, Chief Advancement Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 509-7221.
How can I have access to services from the Wellness Center even though we are not in-person?
The Wellness Center staff will continue to assist students in gaining access to the services that they need. Unity College will be offering telemedicine services to students with access to nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and physicians 24 hours a day as well as mental health counselling and med management services.
If I have not retrieved my belongings from my residence hall room yet, how can I get my things?
Students can make appointments by contacting the Dean of Students, Ray Phinney (email@example.com). Students who have self-isolated in Maine for 14 days prior to arrival or who have had a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours may schedule a time to gather their belongings. Students may only bring one person to assist them. Social distancing protocols as well as wearing masks must be observed at all times. Students who are unable to follow these requirements may contact the Dean of Students to coordinate shipping of personal belongings.
Will there be opportunities for virtual activities and socialization?
The student success staff are planning a diverse schedule of events for Unity College students. We will be hosting weekly activities and opportunities to hangout virtually. Get your friends together for group game nights, comedians, video game tournaments, DIY crafts and online competitions.
Who do I call if I have questions?
Your assigned staff liaison will be reaching out to you shortly, but in the meantime, we are standing by to assist you. You can contact Juanita Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 509-7236 and she will assist you with the next steps. Please also feel free to contact Zach Falcon at email@example.com or (207) 509-7131.