RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105,  

Summer classes challenge for cheap

BILLINGS, May 21, 2014 – Four students soak up a semester of Deb Wiens’ Probability and Statistics class in three weeks of close working relationships during May. Rocky Mountain College summer classes offer inexpensive college credit and concentrated personal study.

Megg Gildehaus (’16) of Red Lodge, Mont., studies 14 hours outside of class each weekday for her Stats and American History II courses, “late at night making bad jokes that seem funny,” she said.

RMC offers June term and combined summer-session courses that are slightly less accelerated, but May term courses cover a week’s worth of material each day in three hours of class and about six hours of homework. “It’s way more intense” than regular class, Newlan Parker (’14) of Billings said.

Sixty-seven summer classes in 2014 have 251 seats filled, so class size averages four students. Summer classes cost just $350 per credit. “We offer summer classes as a student service,” said Registrar Annalea Avery, to help students with early graduation or athletic or financial aid eligibility. “It’s much cheaper for students to take classes in the summer,” Avery said. “It’s good use of their time. The more, the merrier.” Campus is much quieter than during the academic year. 

[Professor of Mathematics] “Deb gets here a half hour early, so we come in with questions,” Parker said gratefully. After 26 years of teaching stats, “she makes it fun.” Wiens has received teaching awards for guiding RMC math students from developmental through upper-level classes such as combinatorics. She has advised statewide math education initiatives.

“I save all my notes and work,” Parker said.

“We’re killing trees,” Weins agreed. Various academic areas use different statistics software, she points out, so her students clarify concepts on paper, so they can apply them whatever their discipline.

“In a class this small, you get to know everyone better. It’s so much nicer to know the people you’re teaching,” Wiens said.

In 2014, ASRMC (Associated Students of Rocky Mountain College) replaced 10 new TI 84+ color graphical calculators for the RMC library to share with students. Using the calculators, “We do stats at night with our lights off in the room,” Parker said. “I dream stats [and] study in my sleep,” Gildehaus chimed in. 

Nancy White (’15) of Laurel, Mont., said, “It’s nice to have it done in three weeks, but the workload is ridiculous.” Parker explained, “Deb’s got it down to a science: it couldn’t be harder, and if it were any easier, we wouldn’t get through it.”