The Parkland College Blog

Trials to Triumphs for New ECCA Education Pathway Students

ECCA Education Pathway First Semester A Success

The newest career pathway for the Early College and Career Academy at Parkland College got off to a rocky start this fall, but program instructors and students consider its first semester a success.

Education is the eighth program under the ECCA, the dual credit joint program of Education for Employment #330 and Parkland College. This pathway provides early college training for area high school seniors who want to pursue teaching as a career path, and has been designed as a means to help fill the gap in the district's Pre K-12 teacher shortage.

In a semester filled with unforeseen challenges, program directors and instructors were tasked with finding a way to provide high-quality education for students while combating the spread of coronavirus, according to Charles Larenas, associate professor in Education and one of the ECCA Education Pathway students' instructors.

"The students asked me to teach on-campus, so I did until November 20," he said. "We respected one another; we all wore our masks, and we followed social distancing protocols, so we felt comfortable being together on-campus. If a student wasn't able to attend class, they joined us virtually on Microsoft Teams. We made it work."

Though the semester was uniquely challenging, both Larenas and EFE #330 Director Nick Elder said students rose to the challenges, stayed on course, and experienced a successful semester’s end.

"The students are amazing," Larenas said. "I think each one of them is a superstar. We had a great first semester." Elder said students now look forward to spring semester, in which they will take EDU 104, Introduction to Special Education and PSY 220, Educational Psychology. Elder noted that the two classes will continue to build on the knowledge the students gained during the fall semester and provide a great pathway to careers in education.

"The courses are very hands-on, so that gives students a better opportunity to be engaged every class period," said Larenas, adding that he feels positive his students will be excited to see him again in the spring. "I am sure they are also looking forward to another semester of my jokes."

Once students complete the Education pathway, they can expect continued support from EFE #330 and a guaranteed job interview from the students' home school district once they earn their professional educator's license, according to Elder.

"The coursework and observation experience students complete during the ECCA Education Pathway will place these students on a fast track to entering the field of education," he said. "EFE #330 is working to put a system in place so we are able to maintain contact with these students throughout their college years, with the hope that they will return to teach locally."

Launched in November 2014, the Early College and Career Academy is a collaboration of the EFE #330 K-12 career and technical education cooperative and Parkland College. At the academy, high school juniors and seniors earn dual credit for courses in certain skill-based programs: Automotive, Computer Networking, Computer Programming, Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services (Health Professions or Fire Service focus), Certified Nursing Assistant, Industrial Technology, and Education Pathway. The academy benefits not only area students, but also local businesses, due to the increased skill level of the incoming workforce.

For more information on the ECCA Education Pathway, contact Elder at or 217/355-1382. Visit the ECCA page to learn more about the Early College and Career Academy.

Spring Enrollment Blitz 2021

Register for Spring 2021 semester classes with the help of an Admissions Advisor through Jan. 9

Parkland College is helping residents sign up for Spring 2021 classes both at the campus and virtually through a one-stop enrollment services event.

WHAT:    Spring Enrollment Blitz 2021
WHO:     The public; Parkland College Student Services representatives
WHEN:   Mon–Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Jan. 8; Sat, Jan. 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WHERE: Parkland College Student Services offices and via Zoom

DETAILS: Spring Enrollment Blitz 2021 runs now through Jan. 9, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., both on-campus and via Zoom. Students can visit the offices listed below on campus during these hours. Zoom hours are the same as in-person hours (including Saturday, Jan. 9) but Tuesday and Thursday will go from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Since Parkland College's spring semester classes begin Monday, Jan. 11, the event is especially useful for those who have steps yet to complete in their enrollment.

During Enrollment Blitz, new and returning students can receive help from the college's Student Services offices, including Admissions and Records, Financial Aid and Veteran Services, Assessment Center, and Counseling Services. Additionally, the Parkland College Bookstore, the cashier's office, and the library (for laptop pickup) will also be open on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. From completing an admissions or financial aid application to registering for classes, Enrollment Blitz has what all students need to prepare for a great new semester.

For more information on Spring Enrollment Blitz 2021, go to, contact Admissions and Records at 217/351-2482 or email

Registration Now Open for Spring 2021 Semester

Spring 2021 registration for all students opens Nov. 2nd

Open registration for Parkland College Spring Semester 2021 starts November 2. See a full listing of available courses at

Spring semester classes begin the week of January 11 (for full 16-week and first 8-week sessions) and later. Instruction will be delivered in online and hybrid formats.

See the Registration Guide for dates and deadlines, drop and withdrawal steps, tuition and fee information, and more. Students may need to meet with an academic advisor before registering. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, academic advisors are available remotely, by emailing For a listing of registration steps, please visit

Register by January 10 for classes that begin January 11, by January 31 for classes that begin February 1, and by March 7 for classes that begin March 8. 

GEER Up at Parkland College

Parkland College Announces New "GEER Up" Program

Parkland College announced a new tuition-assistance program, called GEER Up, which aims to expand access to Dual Enrollment classes for low-income, underrepresented, and/or first-generation high school students within District 505.

Funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), the program will support Parkland College’s efforts to serve new and existing students from underrepresented groups throughout the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that they are able to access and find success in Parkland career programs. GEER Up aims to help these students transition smoothly to higher education through academic support, access to academic advising, and financial literacy coaching.

GEER Up will assist current high school students interested in Dual Enrollment classes but unable to participate due to extenuating circumstances and increased financial restraints. For students interested in selective admissions Health Professions programs, GEER Up presents an opportunity to meet required prerequisite or placement criteria. The program will provide eligible students up to $2,500 in assistance for tuition, fees, and books/technology in an award package determined by the student’s program of choice.

“Part of our mission as a community college is to ensure that all members of our community have access to the tools for success, no matter what barriers there might be,” said Stephanie Stuart, Vice President for Communications and External Affairs. “We know that the financial burden of this pandemic has not impacted families equally, and that access to dual enrollment for low-income high school students has become much more limited. With GEER Up, we want to provide the opportunity for all students to get a head start on college and successfully transition into post-secondary education and training so they can achieve their dreams.”

As part of the program, students can enroll in one or more Parkland courses plus 3 credit hours of student support coursework including First Year Experience (FYE), which will help students transition from high school to college. The program will serve 100 total students for the Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 semesters.

Applications for the GEER Up program are due December 11. While all high school students may apply, first priority will be given to high school seniors. Applications will be accepted after December 11 based on space left in the program. Applications are available and submitted at Courses begin in January. Academic advising is available to students immediately upon application.

For more information, please visit or contact the Early College Office at or 217/353-2663.

Parkland Admissions to Host Academic Showcase Webinars

Parkland College Admissions Virtual Academic Showcase

In lieu of its annual Fall Open House, Parkland College will offer prospective students and their families a showcase of its career and academic programs in a virtual format.

Five hourlong “Academic Showcase” online virtual tours will take place from Oct. 23 to Nov. 13, livestreamed on the Parkland College Facebook page. The college’s Admissions and Records office is hosting the series.

Families and students can register for the virtual tours at The tour schedule includes:

Health Professions Showcase
Friday, Oct. 23
1–2:30 p.m.
Programs highlighted include Nursing Assistant, Dental Hygiene, Emergency Medical Services, Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, Massage Therapy, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Nursing (ADN), Respiratory Care, Surgical Technology, Veterinary Technology, and Radiologic Technology. Prospective students can explore the school’s popular health career programs as well as other topics such as dates, deadlines, requirements, and selective admissions steps. Virtual tour attendees are encouraged to bring their questions.
Applied Technologies Showcase
Thursday, Oct. 29
Noon–1 p.m.
Parkland’s Applied Technologies division will feature programs including Automotive, Agriculture, and Welding. These in-demand fields offer multiple options for hands-on careers.
Arts and Sciences Showcase
Friday, Nov. 6
3:30–4:30 p.m.
Arts and Sciences faculty will cover Parkland degrees available in the Humanities, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts. They will also discuss the transferability of Parkland classes as well as the ever-popular Parkland Pathway to Illinois program.
Business Showcase
Friday, Nov. 13
10–11 a.m.
Business programs, from Entrepreneurship to Management to Administrative Technology, will be the focus of this virtual tour. Faculty will discuss how busy adults and traditional-aged students can benefit from these flexible certificate and degree programs and online options.
Computer Science Showcase
Friday, Nov. 13
1:30–2:30 p.m.
Computer Science will round out the series, featuring short-term career degree and certificate programs in Networking, Programming, Digital Media, Web Development, and more. Parkland offers credentials to get residents returning to the workforce faster in these in-demand fields.

For more information, please contact or call Admissions at 217/351-2482.