Brunswick Community College won’t let the fuel pump stand in the way of a quality education.
Policy-makers at Brunswick Community College (BCC) listened to the concerns of commuters feeling the pain of high gas prices and devised a range of class scheduling options that make it easier on the pocketbooks of students who live in North Brunswick County and other locations farther away from BCC’s main campus in Supply.
This fall, there are more course offerings at the Leland campus, along with the option to pursue a “hybrid” course of study combining classroom time with online work from home.
BCC President Stephen Greiner recalls a conversation with a student from Leland at the end of the spring semester who said she wouldn’t be able to attend school in the fall because of the cost of gas.
“The cost of gas should never affect a student’s ability to obtain an education,” Greiner says. “We have since heard the same concerns from multiple students. Many of our students have limited discretionary income and discretionary revenue and we say to them, ‘Let’s work with you so what you give up is not your education.’”
The realities of the current economy become apparent in the amount of financial aid applications processed by the college. Applications are up 80 percent from the previous academic year.
“It got my attention. I’ve never seen anything like that and this is my 34th year in higher education,” Greiner says.
BCC’s new student-focused schedule offers course options that include from one to three days on campus, with additional work completed at home. The course requirements remain just as rigorous.
“It doesn’t make it academically easier for the student, it just makes it more convenient,” Greiner says.
BCC student Jason Fisher says the college’s new options make it easier for him in terms of expense and convenience.
“It’s definitely a huge advantage,” says Fisher, 28, who is a surveying technology major.
He has spoken with fellow students who are also concerned about the cost of driving to school.
“I know other people in classes where it figures into their budget,” Fisher says. “I think it’s a factor for sure.”
Fisher, who also holds a four-year forestry degree from North Carolina State University, is a part-time student who works full-time and commutes to classes on the Leland campus from his home in Wilmington.
“All the classes that I have taken and the classes I am taking next semester are at the north campus,” he says. “Driving to Supply is a long drive from my house.”
Fisher looks forward to the possibility of doing more coursework online.
Greiner agrees that the BCC Leland Center at 2500 Enterprise Boulevard offers students more economical options of study than commuting to classes in Supply. BCC also has a Southport Center for students living in that area of Brunswick County.
“Any course that’s in our general education (curriculum) is available at the Leland campus,” Greiner says, adding that with online courses there are multiple options for BCC students.
“They shouldn’t just assume that they have to come to campus,” says Greiner. “We can work on a student-focused schedule with them.”
Greiner says the Leland Center is in line for many improvements, including building renovations and upgraded classrooms, along with the addition of new library and computer space.
BCC is also working on other ways to make attending school easier.
“This year we put a car-pooling system in place,” Greiner says. “Our student services office is going to put together a car-pooling database resource.”
BCC currently has about 1,500 students pursuing majors resulting in two-year degrees. The college has another 7,000 students studying in continued workforce development programs, such as real estate and trades like welding. The mix at BCC includes many nontraditional students who work full-time jobs or have returned to school after starting a family.
The alternative study options should benefit everyone, Greiner says.
“We do have a large number of students from North Brunswick who are interested in the programs we offer,” he says.
BCC has had a four-day calendar in effect for several years to make college courses more convenient for working students. Greiner says the newer offerings only add to the educational possibilities. n
For more information about BCC programs, call (910) 755-7300 or the college admissions office at (910) 755-7324, or visit www.brunswickcc.edu.