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The unexpected closure of Virginia College this month is forcing students, and other area colleges, to adjust on the fly.
Spartanburg Community College and Greenville Technical College both said their staffs are preparing to accommodate students who may be left in the lurch after Virginia College’s parent company announced Dec. 5 it was shuttering dozens of locations nationwide. But whether those students will be able to transfer credits earned at Virginia College is questionable.
Tanisha Latimer, dean of enrollment services at Greenville Tech, said she believes more than 100 students at Virginia College’s campus at 8150 Warren H. Abernathy Highway in Spartanburg were effected by the closure. Greenville Tech hosted an open house on Dec. 7, and Latimer said some 60 Virginia College students attended.
“After we learned the college was closing — we already have a tour on Fridays — we knew they were going to be in a position to make decisions quickly,” Latimer said. “We wanted to be in position to help them as we could.”
Lynn Dale, SCC’s associate vice president of enrollment management and retention said Spartanburg Community College is making similar preparations to guide students who may be effected. An email from Dale outlined SCC’s enrollment process, including points of contact who could answer individual questions ahead of the school’s enrollment period Jan. 3-7, 2019.
Dale’s note makes clear the problem many potential Virginia College transfer students could face.
“In general, SCC only transfers in credits that have been earned at regionally accredited higher education institutions,” the statement said.
Since Virginia College does not meet Spartanburg Community College or Greenville Tech accreditation requirements, staff from both schools said students could be at risk of losing all credit for work completed at Virginia College.
Teams at each school will evaluate individual transcripts.
“Your transcript may also provide evidence of successful completion of classes that may be used to forego the need to complete the ... assessment, which is used to determine course placement at SCC,” according to Dale.
Latimer said the situation is similar to the 2016 closure of ITT Tech’s Greenville campus under similar circumstances.
She said her advice to Virginia College students is to take a deep breath and consider their goals and the work they’ve put in to their education already.
“They’re most fearful of losing what they’ve worked for,” Latimer said. “And I can definitely understand that fear.”
She urged Virginia College students to secure their transcripts as soon as possible, and submit them to local colleges for evaluations simultaneously.
“It’s not likely everyone is going to get credit for everything,” Latimer said. “But there were ITT Tech students who came in here with the same fears, who did end up getting credit for some of their earlier work. This is not an ideal situation by anybody’s standards, but we don’t want anybody to lose hope.”
Birmingham, Alabama-based Education Corp. of America said Dec. 5 it was closing schools operating as Virginia College, Brightwood College, Brightwood Career Institute, Ecotech Institute and Golf Academy of America in more than 70 locations in 21 states, including Spartanburg. The company said in October that it had more than 20,000 students, although more recent documents indicate the number may be closer to 15,000.
The company is the latest in a series of for-profit colleges to close after allegations that they were loading students up with debt while not providing them with marketable skills.