For students seeking to start their college careers or adults looking to retrain for new career opportunities, Western Piedmont Community College, located in Morganton, N.C., offers a variety of academic and career training options to help students realize their dreams.
Community colleges are becoming a more popular option as the current state of the U.S. economy is pushing more adults to return to school to retrain for new careers and is forcing traditional college-aged students to look for a more affordable option.
Western Piedmont Community College is a large enrollment school, offering a large university feel while retaining the benefits of community college – a more student-oriented and nurturing environment and lower attendance costs. The college consists of the main campus in Morganton and a recently opened campus in Burke County.
Western Piedmont Community College was chartered by the North Carolina Board of Education in the mid-1960s. The college opened for business in 1966, enrolling about 400 students. In 1973, the college embarked upon a major expansion, building new facilities, including a student center, student activities area, cafeteria and bookstore. Another major expansion in the late 80s added a Learning Resource Center, which contains a library, drama studio and more.
The college opened the Foothills Higher Education Center in Burke County, an area with previously limited access to post-secondary education, in 2009.
Western Piedmont Community College offers a variety of academic programs to prepare students for further studies at a four-year school as well as career programs that can quickly prepare students for new careers in a matter of weeks or in two years, depending on the program.
The college offers about 60 career certificate and associate’s degree programs. Career certificate programs provide students with skills needed to enter a specific career field, and typically take less time to complete than a traditional college degree program. Distance learning via hybrid and online courses is also available.
The college has received a number of plaudits in recent years. Western Piedmont community College was recently named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Its early education program has won national certification. Surveys into the effectiveness of WPCC programs have found that virtually all graduates of the college seeking work find employment within a year of graduation and that WPCC students who transfer to a four-year university typically have high grades (89 percent with a “B” average or better).
The college has well-regarded public safety training programs, including the recently opened Western Piedmont Community College Emergency Services Training Center. The center has a variety of training modules firefighters can use to learn their trade, including a flash over simulator and a residential burn building, among others.
High School Academics
The college offers the Burke Middle College program, which allows high school students in local high schools to complete their high school graduation requirements and first two years of college simultaneously, earning a high school diploma and an associate’s degree upon graduation from high school.
The college also offers GED courses to students who need to obtain this credential. Last year, nearly 500 people obtained GEDs through the college’s program.
The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits schools in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas, and Americans schools in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Western Piedmont Community College has an open admissions policy, meaning that any student with a high school diploma or GED will be accepted. However, some WPCC programs have selective admissions—the college’s health programs may have grade requirements and prerequisites.
Students applying to the college are required to submit high school transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, documentation of civic or community involvement, character references, class rank, and extracurriculars. Prospective students will also need to take the COMPASS placement exam to determine if they need remedial courses.
The Fall application deadline is Aug. 6 and as of Sept. 2011, the college has no application fee.
Students applying to the Western Piedmont Community College are eligible for federal grants and student loans. There are also a number of grants and scholarships offered by the state of North Carolina, the university itself, and other organizations that students may be eligible for. For example, the Western Piedmont Foundation awards $500 scholarships based on financial need to North Carolina residents to attend WPCC.
The college’s website has a comprehensive list of scholarships and other programs, such as loans, students can use to attend class at the Western Piedmont Community College
Western Piedmont’s office of financial aid stands ready to help students find other grants and scholarships they may be eligible for. About 67 percent of Western Piedmont Community College students receive financial aid of some type. The average scholarship award is around $2,400.
Western Piedmont Community College has a fairly large enrollment of about 10,000 students.
The school offers about 20 clubs and organizations, including professional and academic organizations, religious groups and recreational clubs. The college has a campus newsletter, The Update.
Although WPCC is a rural campus, the college is less than an hour from Charlotte, NC. WPCC has a number of features students can enjoy, including greenhouses, which are part of the college’s sustainability program, walking trails, an alpine climbing facility and the Senator Sam J. Ervin Jr. library and museum.
Student Services and Facilities
The college offers a number of support services to students including personal and career counseling, tutoring services, and more. A campus cafeteria in Morganton provides WPCC students with a place to eat and to socialize.
One interesting feature of WPCC is the Berry Site, and archeological site at an ancient Native American town. The college maintains a field school at the Berry site.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Western Piedmont Community College does not have athletic teams.
“Western Piedmont Community College.” Western Piedmont Community College. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2011. <http://www.wpcc.edu/index.php>.
Gonsher, Debra A., and Joshua Halberstam. The community college guide: the essential reference from application to graduation. Dallas, Tex.: BenBella Books, 2009. Print.
The College Board College Handbook, 2010 . 47th ed. New York: College Board, 2009. Print.
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