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PHCC Uptown: Program has slow start

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

A new Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) program intended, in part, to help people earn associate degrees in one year instead of two has gotten off to a slow start.

The college is committed to “PHCC Uptown,” although only four students have enrolled so far, said Public Relations and Marketing Manager Kris Landrum.

“Any new program starts out slowly and (enrollment) picks up” as more and more people become aware of it, Landrum said.

As part of “PHCC Uptown,” courses toward an associate in arts and sciences degree in general studies will be taught at Jefferson Plaza, the Artisan Center and other places in Martinsville’s central business district, a flier shows.

For years, the college has offered certain specialized courses, such as art and culinary classes, at uptown facilities such as the Artisan Center.

The new program’s main purpose, according to Landrum, is to reach out to local business people — including those who work uptown — who want to earn an associate degree or need to do so to advance in their careers.

College officials have said people who enroll, regardless of why, might be better able to manage their time by not having to travel to PHCC’s main campus off Kings Mountain Road.

The way courses originally were scheduled was designed to help students earn degrees in a year if they took enough classes, officials have said.

Classes that were set to begin Sept. 9 were to be taught daily in 50-minute sessions from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. However, nobody signed up for any of the courses so they were canceled.

In contrast, classes at PHCC’s main campus usually are scheduled either two or three days a week and last from 80 minutes to three hours. Landrum has said the shorter uptown classes may better suit students with jobs or other commitments to work around.

As part of a “mini-session” that began Oct. 14, two classes — Introduction to Communication and College Composition I — are being taught in two-hour blocks. The same four students are attending both classes, which are held at the Jefferson Plaza, Landrum said.

At least 12 students usually must enroll in a class for the college to hold it. Because “PHCC Uptown” is new, officials decided to go ahead with the two classes despite having just four students, according to Landrum.

A new mini-session is to start on Nov. 18, and two-hour classes will be held then, Landrum said. As many as eight courses could be taught, depending on how many students show interest in them, she said.

Those courses are ones in college composition, American literature, United States history, sociology, information literacy, math for liberal arts, biology and principles of microeconomics, she said.

Under the original uptown schedule, if students were to take enough of the 50-minute classes during the four planned academic sessions each year, they would be able to earn a degree within that time, Landrum has said.

With two-hour courses, it still may be possible for students to earn degrees in a year in the future if enough courses are held uptown, she said Monday.

“We’re still experimenting” with the program, trying to figure out what courses will be successful uptown based on student demand, she said.

She added that “PHCC Uptown” also could help students at the main campus who, for example, cannot get courses they need there, such as when classes are full, or who lack time in their schedules to take another semester-long course but could accommodate a shorter-term course.

Essentially the only new expense that the college is incurring by offering “PHCC Uptown” is a monthly rent of $1,450 for space in Jefferson Plaza, Landrum said.


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