BLUEFIELD, Va. —People who want to further their education but cannot make long commutes to a college classroom will soon have an option that’s closer to home.
Southwest Virginia Community College announced this week that a new location is opening in Bluefield, Va. to serve students on both sides of the Virginia and West Virginia state line. The new Bluefield Center will be located at 745 South College Drive in the Twin City Shopping Center.
“We speak a lot to our students and the students have told us that one of the biggest things they have is distance, the time it takes to commute to the college,” said Dr. Robert Brandon, vice president of academic affairs at SWCC. “Since Bluefield is one of the largest population centers in our service area, we wanted to help the students there cut down on their commute time.”
Traveling down U.S. Route 460 from the Bluefield, Va. area to the college’s campus near Cedar Bluff, Va. is “a straight shot,” but the trip can take 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic and road conditions, Brandon said.
The college will begin offering some in-person classes on March 8. The first classes to be offered for the upcoming term that begins in March include Air Conditioning and Refrigeration I (AIR-121) and Basic Electricity and Machinery (ELE-120).
Brandon said the Bluefield Center will be able to accommodate over 100 students, and it will have room for expansion.
“It’s very nice. It will have a workforce development center, it will have a library, it will have five classrooms and a student activity room,” he said. “We’re starting with abbreviated classes so we can social distance. There will be smaller class sizes and they’ll be spread out.”
While the first classes being offered focus mainly on technology and industrial skills, the new center’s second phase will include transfer classes and health sciences classes, Brandon said.
The additional classes in other subjects and areas will be held during the Summer 2021 and Fall 2021 terms, according to the college’s announcement.
Besides serving students in the eastern part of the college’s service area, the Bluefield Center will also help West Virginia residents by offering in-state tuition rates for students living in the counties of McDowell, Mercer, Summers and Greenbrier, college officials said.
The Bluefield Center is the third off-campus location the college uses to serve students. Southwest Virginia Community College currently has locations in Lebanon, Va. and Grundy,Va. in addition to the main campus located on the Tazewell/Russell county line in the Wardell area.
Brandon said that spaces in the new Bluefield Center’s classes are still available. People interested in the classes can contact a college student success coach at 276-964-7300 or visit sw.edu/bluefield.
“We’re just excited to be opening our center in the Bluefield area and looking forward to great things,” he said.
— Contact Greg Jordan at email@example.com