Students With Military Status Breaking Records
BRCC, Va. Community Colleges See Marked Enrollment Growth
HARRISONBURG — The Virginia Community College System posted a record number of students with military status during the past academic year, with Blue Ridge Community College contributing positively toward the record.
Across the system’s 23 campuses, 41,470 students with military status were enrolled during the 2012-13 school year. That’s an increase of 0.6 percent, or about 250 students, from the previous year.
Students with military status includes active-duty service members, reservists, retirees, veterans, dependents and spouses.
At BRCC, enrollment among those students increased by 6.1 percent between 2011-12 and 2012-13, according to Jeffrey Kraus, assistant vice chancellor for public relations with the Virginia Community College System.
BRCC now has 570 military status students enrolled, up from 537 a year prior. Most of those — about 250 — are veterans.
“We’re really a geographic college. So we work with many of the organizations around the area to provide services to the people from our region,” said Bob Young, BRCC’s vice president of instruction and student services. “It’s not so much trying to recruit people but to serve the veterans and their families that are in our area.”
Young said that the area is veteran-heavy and that the college expects even more gains in that enrollment in the next five to 10 years as veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan continue to take advantage of G.I. Bill benefits.
To serve that population, the college has advisers who help veterans and their families navigate the enrollment process, as well as a club for students who are veterans.
The college also will soon be able to offer aid through the federal Workforce Investment Act Rapid Response Assistance program. The aid is meant to help veterans interested in training for careers in manufacturing.
“I certainly have a very strong feeling of wanting to support and work with our veterans,” said Young, who was in the Navy for 22 years. “We think it’s very important here and we support them as much as we possibly can.”
In addition to having a record number of military status students, the community college system also reported that the number of students solely taking classes online is at a record high.
The number of students taking online classes at BRCC went from 1,124 to 1,166 between 2011-12 and 2012-13, a 3.7 percent increase. Within the entire VCCS, 44,838 students took online classes in 2012-13, an increase of 1,018 students over the prior year.
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