PRINCETON — When Valley College of Princeton recently announced the end of its on-campus courses, the move reflected a growing trend of obtaining degrees online rather than in a classroom setting.
Although the last classroom course on the Princeton campus ends this fall, the main office at 617 Mercer Street will continue to operate to accommodate the many students who are enrolling in the online programs.
George Campbell, a Bluefield, Va. resident and Bluefield College graduate who has been with the college for almost eight years, is the senior admissions representative for Valley College and continues to take care of business at the Mercer Street office.
“We will go completely online,” he said of the five course offerings through the Princeton facility.
Campbell said he saw the demand for online courses, which have offered since 2010, take off about three years ago and it has steadily increased as many students prefer the more independent route to a degree.
The Valley College system, also has campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg as well as in Cleveland, Ohio, has adapted.
“They (online courses) are very convenient,” he said. “You can access them 24/7 and a lot of people are working and have kids. It just makes them a lot more convenient.”
Campbell said his office is there to enroll and help students get started, taking them through the process of what they need to do and make sure they understand their responsibilities.
They also learn about financial aid opportunities.
“We talk to them about the effort it takes for an online program,” he said. “It takes a lot of patience, concentration and to stay focused. We give them the expectations of what they are doing … their performance.”
Once they are enrolled, they have a solid support system, he said, including student success coaches who work with them on any issues that may come up.
“I have a lot of students that call me,” he said. “I help them and we want to make sure they are going to be successful.”
But the reward for the work is substantial.
That’s because the college, which is nationally accredited by the ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, has a successful job placement program.
Campbell said even to obtain the accreditation, job placement has to be more than 70 percent, and the student satisfaction rate tells the story.
“With our online students we have a 97 percent satisfaction rate that we met or exceeded their expectations,” he said. “We have a great placement rate. That is a huge thing for every college.”
Campbell said most colleges don’t offer that. “I had no job placement assistance,” he said of his own college graduation.
Two factors contribute to the placement success in Princeton..
One, he said, is Laura Belcher, a career service advisor who also works in the Mercer Street office.
“She helps with job placement assistance, resumes and does mock interviews with students,” he said, as well as keeps her finger on the pulse of community businesses, establishing needed contacts.
The other factor is the close ties with the community.
“We have an advisory board that is made up of people in the community,” he said. “When we add programs, we survey the community to see if the job demand is there, what the community needs.”
Keeping a presence in the community with the office is important, he said, and it helps the college remain a part of the community.
The college offers five programs and classes start every three weeks.
Both associates and bachelor’s degrees are available in health services administration, cyber security and business, he said.
Other programs are medical front office billing and coding, and medical administrative assistant, which are both nine-month programs.
The college will teach out its ground campus-based Medical Clinical Assistant (MCA) program, which will end Nov. 1. Students can go to the Beckley campus for those or any other ground courses.
Campbell, who worked in Miami before he and his wife moved back to this area to raise their daughter, said the Valley College office will remain open and be ready to help students in any way it can..
“We are a hub for students,” he said.
For more information about Valley College and its programs, stop by the 617 Mercer Street office or visit online at valley.edu.
Contact Charles Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org