Blue Ridge Community and Technical College is a state-funded two-year institution in the mountains of West Virginia. Founded in 1974, the college currently serves nearly 4,000 undergraduates. Most of those students are West Virginia natives, with in-state tuition a bargain by nearly any standard. Until 2005, the school was known as the Community and Technical College of Shepherd. The school was renamed and fully accredited as a distinct institution in 2006.
Available programs emphasize vocational training and workforce development. Certificate programs focusing on highly employable skills and licenses can be completed in less than a year. Certification programs provide an even faster track, with most programs consisting of a single class and training seminar.
The academic disciplines are divided into four areas: Allied Health Sciences, Business and Technology, Economic and Workforce Development, and Liberal Arts and Transitional Studies. Workforce programs include degrees, certificates and certifications in fields as diverse as culinary arts, electric distribution technology and dependent care. Fast Track programs are single classes with limited enrollment that cover basic computer and office skills in a matter of weeks. A separate program called the Microsoft Office Series explores productivity software in more depth.
The Allied Health programs are some of the most popular both for traditional and non-traditional students. Students can choose programs that deal with the administration of health care, such as Medical Billing, or programs focusing on direct care, like the Dental Assistant certificate. The EMT Paramedic program awards an associate’s degree after successful completion of 68 credit hours. For basic emergency care, a First Responder Certification requires only one class, along with some practical training.
The Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts crosses disciplinary lines and teaches students critical thinking skills. Many employers today require some college education, although not necessarily a specific degree. The Liberal Arts degree is an excellent choice for the student wishing to pursue the baccalaureate degree elsewhere, but still unsure of major.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Admissions are non-competitive. There is a small application fee.
Placement tests determine a student’s aptitude for mathematics and college-level English. A student does not pass or fail these tests. Instead, the results are used as a guide during selection of classes. Low scores on a placement test will necessitate remedial course work, while higher scores may allow a student to bypass some of the general requirements. Advanced Placement classes taken during high school are another way for students to accelerate their education.
Students interested in receiving financial aid to help pay for college must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Financial aid breaks down into three basic categories: grants, loans and scholarships.
Students with demonstrated need typically receive either a Federal Pell Grant or a Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. These are government-funded awards that never have to be repaid. The state of West Virginia administers the WV Grant, which is likewise awarded to financially needy students.
Blue Ridge CTC, in partnership with numerous outside agencies and individuals, offers more than 20 merit and need-based scholarships. Most of these programs are discipline-specific, with half of the institutional scholarships designated for nursing students. Every scholarship has unique eligibility requirements and application procedures. Some consist of one-time awards, while others may be renewed for multiple years.
Federal loan programs help students cover tuition and fees when other forms of aid fall short. Loan limits are determined by academic status, and generally loan repayment does not begin until at least six months after the borrower leaves school. The government grants deferments for borrowers in difficult financial situations who are having trouble repaying their loans. Loan applicants should be aware that a loan is not a gift, and the consequences for defaulting are serious.
Student Financial Aid Details
Most students attend on a part-time basis. For many of these students, time for school competes with a full-time job and a family.
Students can participate in several clubs and organizations that enhance the sense of community while attending college. The Student Government Association (SGA) provides politically engaged students the chance to be part of the decision-making process on campus. The benefits of joining SGA are numerous. Students form strong professional networks that benefit them throughout their careers. The experience of working with others toward a common goal builds character and is something future employers will look upon favorably.
Students with a creative spark can join the Residential Writers Group and share their fiction and poetry with like-minded individuals. The group publishes a collection called of student art, fiction and poetry called “The Outlet.” Regular group meetings provide members the chance to critique new work and collaborate on projects.
All students, faculty and staff have access to free mental health and counseling services through EastRidge Health Systems. Students typically are seen within two business days and have access to a 24-hour crisis hotline. The college pays for an unlimited number of visits for each student requiring help.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Of the more than 100 faculty members who lead instruction, nearly a third are part-time. The student to faculty ration at the college is 29 to 1.
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