The three-week session came in just the nick of time for Colton Talbert, a theater direction and management from Wahoo, Nebraska.
Talbert thought he was on track to graduate in December, but his pre-graduation degree audit held an unwelcome surprise: The class that he thought would meet his one remaining Achievement-Centered Education, or ACE, requirement didn’t.
He and his adviser figured out a way around it. He would take Introduction to Gerontology during the three-week remote learning session that starts Nov. 30, finishing in time to graduate on Dec. 19. This is his ninth semester at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he said, and he’s ready to finish up his degree and start his career.
“It would just be nice to be able to start working,” he said. “I want to get through the three-week session and find a job in Lincoln. There aren’t many theater jobs while coronavirus is happening, but I want to make some money and get a solid basis. Once things start opening up, I’ll start applying for theater jobs.”
Created by the university to keep students engaged and progressing toward their degree during this year’s unusually long period between semesters, the three-week session has met with a favorable response from students. Talbert is among nearly 1,360 students, mostly undergraduates, who enrolled in 60-plus classes offered during the fall session.
As a precaution against spreading COVID-19 during the winter months, university leaders decided to end fall in-person classes before Thanksgiving and to delay the start of spring semester until Jan. 25. A second three-week remote learning session is planned for January.
Gerontology may seem like an unusual choice for a theater major late in his academic career. Talbert said he chose it because it fit his missing requirement for a social sciences-oriented class and the topic interested him.
“I was super happy that taking the ACE I needed in the three-week session will qualify me for December graduation,” he said.
Talbert started as a computer engineering major, but quickly realized it wasn’t for him. An major-by-major review of the university bulletin found something more appealing – theater directing and management. As a “theater kid” in high school, he tried both backstage work and acting and found he enjoyed working backstage more.
He’s been assisting with virtual education events at the Lied Center this semester, working on programs such as “Huskers in the Spotlight,” “Lunch and Learn” and “Tiny Lieders” for students younger than 6 years old.
It hasn’t been easy learning online, he said, especially as a theater major, Talbert said.
“Last semester, I was taking a lighting class, learning how to light the stage. We were taught the best we could from home. We did all the pre-work, in programming the board, but we didn’t get to see what the board would do for us,” he said. “I like being on campus and going to class.”