The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has forced the education world to change learning methods. However, the Texas Tech Graduate School did not let the pandemic stop them from being successful.

According to Texas Online Colleges, the Tech Graduate School was ranked number one as the Best Online College. Officials within the graduate school discussed how they reached this impressive feat.

“Those of us who weren’t used to doing online courses found it a tremendous challenge. So, we have been working…  with faculty who have been in the online arena for some time,” Mark Sheridan, the vice provost for Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs and dean of the Tech Graduate School, said.

Having professors who know how to use online platforms can make online classes less stressful. The Tech Graduate School wanted their professors to succeed in teaching their courses online. Having faculty trained and working with each other is one of the reasons the Tech Graduate School has been successful during the pandemic.

“Two weeks before campus shut down, Dean Perlmutter asked us to form a Crisis Response Task Force,”  Amy Koerber, communication studies professor and associate dean for Administration & Finance in the College of Media and Communications, said.

Koerber said it is evident the Tech Administration wanted to get ahead and start planning how to proceed with the COVID-19 shutdown.

The task force’s implementation shows that the Tech Graduate School did not want their students' progression towards their education to be put on hold. Besides the task force, the university created “pandemic sessions” for foreign students to keep their Visas.

“The whole university has been creative in creating what they call pandemic sessions... and they do count for the foreign visas,” Deborah Carr, an associate research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, said.

The pandemic sessions will allow international students to keep their visas while continuing their education at Tech.

Being ranked number one for the best online college in Texas is due to programs, faculty, and tuition price, but it also consists of the care and respect all the Tech Graduate School faculty share with their students, according to Texas Online Colleges.

“Our administration did a great job communicating what steps were next,” Koerber said.

According to the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering’s website, the administration at the Tech Graduate School strives for all faculty and students to be successful. The administration gave faculty and students new updates and plans as quickly and accurately as possible regarding COVID-19.

“We took the time in the spring, and we did so again in the fall, where we called every single graduate student to check in on them just to see how they are doing, and the let them know that we are here,” Sheridan said.

Having the Tech Graduate faculty reach out and make sure their students are doing okay is part of the Texas Tech Commitment. The graduate students have experienced the level of care their professors and administrators have for them, making the students more willing to participate during class, Sheridan said.

Due to the pandemic, some classes at the Tech Graduate School are hybrid. Hybrid courses involve going in person on certain days and online the other days. With the online portion of those hybrid classes, professors get more interaction because you are not always required to have a webcam on. Students can voice how they feel or ask questions more comfortably because there is not a face to a name, according to Tech’s definitions of class delivery modalities.

This global pandemic has not been easy, but the Tech Graduate School has not slowed down in wanting its students and faculty to succeed. The faculty and administrators have worked tirelessly to help accommodate students during the pandemic. 

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