eVersity Fills Education Gap for Many Students

Crystal Sims is not only a first-generation college student and graduate, she’s become an educator at eVersity and Division Chair of General Education and University Transfer at Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas (CCCUA).

Crystal Sims is a pioneer in her family. Not only is she a first-generation college student and graduate, she’s become an educator herself. Today, she’s Division Chair of General Education and University Transfer at Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas (CCCUA).

But the farther the Lexa native gets into her own educational journey, the more acutely she’s reminded of the many people across her native Arkansas Delta and elsewhere in the state who have been left behind.

“As I’ve worked here at the community college level for 14 years, I’ve had thousands of students come through my office over these years who feel like they don’t have an opportunity in their community to get a four-year degree,” she said. “They come into my office and a lot of times the first thing they say is, ‘I can’t leave (my hometown). What can I do here? What kind of four-year degree can I get here?’”

Until recently, Sims had little to offer such students in the way of a solution. But with the launch of the University of Arkansas System eVersity, where Sims instructs classes, all of that has changed.

“One of the problems with places like the Arkansas Delta, and I see it here in southwest Arkansas too, is a lot of individuals in these areas are place bound,” she said. “They’re not able to leave and go to a four-year university. With eVersity, they can come in and they can do all of this work online and know that they can transfer any credits that they may have earned in the local community college.”

In addition to the seamless transfer of credits, Sims is also impressed by the arrangement and organization of coursework that helps online learners stay on track.

“I love how the courses are set up in that every week it’s the same series of assignments, same progression. From the very first day they get in the class, students know what to expect week to week,” she said. “It’s good for the student because there’s never anything extra that’s thrown in at the last minute. They know everything for the entire six weeks.”

Sims said from a value perspective, eVersity provides an efficient and effective means of finishing a degree. She said the program holds great potential for even the state’s most underserved regions.

“I think (eVersity) is going to be really, really important for students who, for whatever reason, can’t go to Little Rock or Magnolia or Monticello or wherever the case may be,” Sims said. “I also think eVersity works well for students who may be working full-time and don’t have the resources or the time to commit to a traditional course, but want the same rigorous, quality education of a full 16-week program. eVersity delivers that.”