As technology evolves, so do opportunities for residents of rural areas like Delta County to pursue higher education and career-oriented goals online. Universities across the country offer accredited online programs that allow people to complete most of their coursework from home.
One challenge for many rural students is the cost and inconvenience of finding a qualified proctor to administer required exams for course completion.
In Delta County, the library district provides college-proctoring services at no cost to the student. "Without the libraries, I'm not sure that I would've chosen to return to school at age 26 with almost 10 years in the workforce," says Hotchkiss resident John Moore. "I've never been a fan of living in cities, which is why online education was perfect for me."
In mid-June, Moore graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor of science degree in fisheries and wildlife. During his four years at OSU, Moore says he took at least 25 exams proctored by Delta County Libraries' staff members.
Gail Srebnik, administrator of Delta County Libraries' adult literacy program, does a majority of the testing. "Gail was always polite and genuinely interested in what I was doing," Moore explains. "The library made it convenient for me to take classes and complete my degree online. It saved me a lot of time and money. You won't find many places that don't charge for proctoring."
Srebnik understands the importance of offering the service free to local students. "There are already so many expenses that can become barriers to pursuing or completing a degree. Our hope is that by providing this service, students in our communities will feel empowered to stay in Delta County and still achieve their educational goals."
In 2018, library staff proctored 33 college exams for students working toward various college certificates and degrees.
Following his graduation, Moore plans to become a game warden in the Colorado Rocky Mountain region. Moore is grateful for the opportunity that Srebnik and the libraries provided in helping him achieve his goals and he hopes that others will take advantage of the service in the future.