Online classes at Coastline College have been a blessing for Jamie Bonthius. With a full-time job working for a real estate developer, Bonthius wouldn’t have otherwise been able to pursue his education.
“I work 60 hours a week so I strongly prefer online,” Bonthius says. “It’s just a question of what I could physically do with my time. I don’t think I could do it in person.”
Jamie, who grew up in Huntington Beach, had previously taken classes at Orange Coast College along with his three siblings. But instead of finishing and transferring to a University of California school like they did, Jamie chose to pursue a career in real estate.
Ten years later, Jamie realized he needed a college degree to advance in his career, so he enrolled in Coastline College’s Business program. “Ultimately my goal is to move into a senior leadership role and I have a higher likelihood of accomplishing that with a degree,” says Jamie.
Jamie decided to attend Coastline College because it was near his home, although his classes have all been online because of the pandemic. “I can’t remember the last time I was on campus,” he says. “I might as well be an out-of-state student.”
Since starting, Jamie has been impressed by the efforts of his professors to offer high-quality instruction online.
“It’s been really positive,” he says. “The professors are accessible. Most are very detail-oriented and have very structured courses and are really responsive.”
Erin Thomas, chair of Coastline College’s Business department, said 90% of the courses in the program have been online for more than a decade. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Coastline was already mostly online while other institutions of higher education were scrambling to make the transition.
“Every new instructor is required to go through online instruction training before they begin teaching,” Thomas says. “Our online classes are extremely high quality.”
This model has allowed Coastline to become a leader in offering high-quality classes to incarcerated students and active-duty military alike. “We make education accessible to those kinds of students who don’t tend to see themselves in higher education,” Thomas says.
Jamie is also a founding officer of Coastline’s new Business Club, which was initiated and created by students. It holds monthly meetings on Zoom and allows students to share ideas and learn from other members.
“Our goal is to provide deeper discussions on business ideas and support others in the group,” says Jamie, who is serving as vice president of the club.
Jamie said it’s been difficult to juggle a busy career and three college courses, but he’s developed a routine that is helping him succeed.
“I have specific times when I need to focus on specific tasks,” he said. “I spend two to three hours a night reading and studying. That’s the only way I’m able to do it.”
Jamie continues to be excited about his future and appreciative of the support he’s received from Coastline’s faculty and staff. When he completes his associate degree next year, Jamie plans to transfer to UC Irvine to earn his bachelor’s.