QVCC’s Willimantic campus looks to grow its enrollment  

Republished from The Chronicle, Willimantic, Conn.

Michelle Warren, The Chronicle, Willimantic, Conn.
Sat, August 21, 2021, 11:59 PM·3 min read

WILLIMANTIC — In an era when community college enrollments are dropping nationwide, it can be difficult for schools like Quinebaug Valley Community College to recruit new students. For more than 30 years, the college has served the region with a satellite campus in Willimantic, acting as a resource for those who wish to obtain an affordable college education. While there has been an uptick in non- traditional students attending the Willimantic center, the goal is to increase the total enrollment at that campus, according to QVCC Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Services Joseph Cullen.

” We absolutely adore the Willimantic community,” he said. ” We want our program to grow but in order to grow, we need people to come.” QVCC has had a satellite campus in Willimantic since 1986. The main campus is at 742 Upper Maple St. in Danielson. Cullen said the school didn’t always have a ” center” in Willimantic, per say, but at times, it just had space in buildings. In 2017, the center moved from Main Street to Windham Technical High School. Starting this past fall, QVCC has been on Main Street once again and it currently shares space with EASTCONN’s Learners Empowered to Achieve their Potential ( LEAP) program, an alternative high school, at 729 Main St. QVCC has four classrooms in that building, as well as a break room and office space.

” This is just the start,” Cullen said. ” We just really hope and anticipate the community will partner with us and then we’ll build something special.” He said there was a drop in enrollment after the move to Windham Tech, but enrollment has bounced back somewhat since the return to Main Street. ” It feels like a more adult environment than a high school environment,” Cullen said, comparing the current site to the Windham Tech site. Cullen said there was an increase in enrollment during the past spring semester at the Willimantic site. “It was modest,” he said. ” I want to say, maybe, 5 percent.” Cullen said, last semester, 137 students were enrolled at QVCC’s Willimantic center.

The registration period for the fall semester is currently underway. QVCC offers both credit and non-credit courses. The registration deadline for the fall semester is Sept. 16. The regular term courses start Aug. 26 and the late term classes, which are shorter and more compact, start Sept. 27. The institution is attractive to students who just graduated high school, referred to as traditional students, as well as non- traditional students. Some non- traditional students are attending college for the first time while others are continuing their college education. “I have a lot of non-traditional ( students) who have families and want to finish in two years, but it’s not always that easy,” QVCC Community Outreach and Evening Coordinator Maria Garcia- Alvarez said.

There are currently 20 courses offered in a variety of subjects at the Willimantic campus, including courses in English as a Second Language, English composition, math, environmental science, and general psychology. Currently, the plan is to offer hybrid classes in the fall at the Willimantic center, with both in- person and online components, but that could change as the pandemic evolves. Cullen said the decision to have hybrid classes was based on a survey students took. He said if conditions of the pandemic change, the school can easily move to entirely virtual classes. Students who don’t have a car can either walk to campus, if they live nearby, or ride a Windham Region Transit District bus, which runs between the Danielson and Willimantic campuses twice a day.

Cullen said tuition rates are ” very reasonable” and there is financial aid available for those who qualify. Students from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island taking 12 or more credits, but no more than 17 credits, would be charged $2,253, including tuition and fees. After 17 credits, there is an additional flat tuition charge of $100 per semester. Students may qualify for free tuition through the free community college program offered by the state.

A limited number of hotspots and laptops are also available to students.

Follow Michelle Warren on Twitter — @mwarrentc.