PATERSON, NJ - When Passaic County Community College (PCCC) opened its doors to several hundred local high school seniors last month Ravyn John, a 2018 of John F. Kennedy High School, told TAPinto Paterson that her decision to start her college career close to home has proven to be a good one.

“Paterson is a city of opportunities,” John said at the time. “This is where it starts.”

On Thursday the electronics engineering major was once again promoting the benefits of studying at PCCC, this time, thanks to the college’s continued embrace of open resource education (OER), from an even greater cost-savings perspective.

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While the cost of tuition at PCCC is already significantly reduced over 4-year colleges, the added financial burden of purchasing relevant course material, mainly in the form of textbooks, is often an impediment to students getting the most out of their academic opportunities, college officials said.

With those costs averaging $1,200 annually, college officials and instructors found that students were often choosing to share books with their peers, or not purchasing them at all, President Steven Rose lamented. These cost-conscious choices were hindering performance, leading to PCCC’s decision to “do something big.”

Less than three years after launching the OER initiative, Greg Fallon, PCCC’s Associate Dean of Learning Resources said, 233 classes are currently being taught by 98 instructors without the use of textbooks.

That effort, expected to save students a combined $1 million during the 2019-2020 academic year, got a major boost thanks to the generosity of The Provident Bank Foundation in the form of a $10,000 grant.

Through the grant PCCC expects that 45 full-time and part-time faculty will establish OER-based courses, moving closer to the college’s goal of eliminating textbook costs for 2,000 students. 

“This extraordinary grant will support us in achieving our vision,” Rose said. 

“Quality of life improves when access to education improves,” Samantha Plotino, Foundation Associate for The Provident Bank Foundation said, adding that they seek out “innovative solutions to breaking down barriers to education,” making PCCC’s move toward OER an ideal recipient.

Several other students were on hand in addition to John, including Paterson resident Ashely Diaz and Rey Alberto. 

Both supported the idea of further reducing the costs of attending college, while also adding that by being able to utilize online resources instructors could be more innovative and current in their teaching.

“This fosters the idea that professors can be more engaged, not just in teaching from textbooks, but asking ‘what do my students need to make their college experience more successful,’ Aberto suggested. 

“We are getting a smarter education, school as we know it is evolving.”

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