Pearl River is Mississippi's fastest growing community college
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — For the third year in a row Pearl River Community College is setting itself apart with unmatched year-to-year enrollment growth for the spring 2020.
According to the 10th day enrollment report published by the Mississippi Community College Board, Pearl River is once again the fastest growing school of Mississippi’s 15 community colleges. Pearl River boasts an enrollment of 4,813 with 62,469 credit hours in spring of 2020. This spring report marks eight consecutive semesters of enrollment growth for the college. Comparing this year’s numbers to spring of ’19, Pearl River’s enrollment has skyrocketed 9.5 percent and the institution’s credit hours have also increased 7.5 percent, giving PRCC eight consecutive semesters of enrollment growth to celebrate.
“I am grateful that students who are seeking higher education opportunities continue to choose Pearl River Community College at a record setting pace,” Pearl River President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “This is a testament to our incredible faculty and staff. We remain committed to proving a high quality, affordable and comprehensive educational experience and we embrace the enormous responsibility of providing life-changing opportunities for our students.”
Pearl River makes itself accessible to a wide range of potential students through its variety of scheduling options. Because of its continuously growing eLearning department, PRCC is able to be both local and wide-reaching by offering many classes and in some cases entire programs fully online.
“Whether the student is taking their first college course, working full-time, serving in the military, or just life experiences don't allow them to come to campus, online classes are convenient at The River,” Director of eLearning Michele Mitchell said. “We can help students pursue their dreams without giving up their life experiences. Students can earn their degrees by attending PRCC's online educational program by connecting to their tablet, mobile device, or computer. PRCC offers academic, career, and technical online classes that provide a path towards graduation. We are providing a quality education that is convenient by offering 15-week, 8-week, and 4-week online courses.”
There is no longer a “certain type” of student attending community college — unless that “type” is defined by those looking for a quality education, personal attention, and the opportunity for a future unencumbered by student loan debt. People of all ages and backgrounds with different educational goals are finding they can take charge of such a future at Pearl River. By creating a schedule that tailors to an array of student circumstances, PRCC meets the students where they are.
Affordability is a community college stereotype that Pearl River proudly embraces by offering a high-quality education without breaking the bank. The institution has not raised its tuition since 2017 all while maintaining standards of excellence in all facets of the educational process.
Investing in its students’ futures is a continued priority for Pearl River through providing scholarship opportunities for new and returning students. Service-based scholarships such as band, choir and athletics foster an environment conducive to being a well-rounded student.
“Being a part of college is amazing, but to be a part of a family is a wholesome experience. A growing college is extraordinary, but a growing family is a life altering experience the students, faculty & staff here at Pearl River Community College get to experience daily. Our students have the equal chance at creating long lasting change for our fine institution through organizations, surveys, and student feedback,” Student Government Association Communication Specialist Isaiah Mcswain said.
Part of PRCC’s ability to stay affordable is through its efficient approach to its everyday operation.
Helping students reach their goals quickly and effectively is a top priority for Pearl River as it has continued to grow and improve its practices in advising and student support.
Orientation sessions designed with students in mind, implementation of active learning, interactive parent sessions, peer mentoring, and online degree progress tracking tools are all ways Pearl River supports students at every step of their educational journey.
“We have implemented new strategies and initiatives over the last couple of years to better serve our students and promote student success,” Breerwood said. “This report serves as motivation to keep moving forward, to keep seeking the best practices in and out of the classroom to promote additional growth and improvement. I am thrilled about what the future holds for Pearl River Community College.”
ADAPTING TO DEMAND
With a current dorm waiting list of 950, PRCC is in the process of building two new dorms, which will include about 260 beds. (pictured below)
The Poplarville campus is also currently making strides on the expansion of its science building, which will house new labs, classrooms and offices. (pictured below)
Pearl River’s Forrest County Center is in undergoing major renovation in the form of a new bookstore, student courtyard, and updated classrooms with the bookstore and Wildcat Mini-Market projects expected to be completed May 2020. (pictured below)
The institution also broke ground on the Phil Bryant Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy in Hancock County in December. The Academy will be an estimated 25,000 square feet and represents a new and expanded presence for PRCC in Hancock County on Fred and Al Key Road. The hangar is estimated to be completed by Dec. 31, 2020 and the Academy by the same date in 2021.
The facility will consist of eight classrooms, five labs, reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, indoor sitting/vending area for students and an outdoor courtyard sitting area.
The hangar itself will be an estimated 18,000 square feet and will consist of two classrooms with labs, open hangar area with hands-on lab stations, outdoor covered area for equipment training, lobby with reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, small vending area for students. The hangar and classroom facility will be an extension of the Academy with hands-on training space as well as state of the art classroom learning environments. Direct runway access will allow for study and testing of operational vehicles with attention given to state-of-the art composites and sheet metal materials. Aviation systems and power plant design, repair and maintenance can be studied, performed and tested in real time on operational equipment. The facility will have direct access to the Stennis International Airport runways, service and fueling facilities. The hangar will offer the following programs: Airframe & Propulsion Technology, Unmanned Arial Systems and Precision Manufacturing.
“Since our groundbreaking announcement in December for the Phil Bryant Aviation Aerospace Workforce Academy, we have been finalizing the design details of our Academy and Hangar and anticipate construction to begin in August,” Director of Governmental and Community Relations Angie Kothmann said. “We are diligently working with our industries, schools and community to ensure we are meeting their needs now and as we construct the new PRCC facilities in Hancock County.”
As the Wildcat Family continues to grow, so does Pearl River’s commitment to being accessible, affordable and efficient for all.
“Growing comes with challenges, but these are good challenges. We are constantly evaluating our overall situation to determine if additional teachers are needed and/or additional office personnel to serve the growing population of students and employees,” Senior Vice President for Instruction/Provost Dr. Martha Lou Smith said.
For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit PRCC.edu and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats) and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG).