Pearl River sees 17 semesters of outperforming state enrollment average
Laura O'Neill - PRCC Communications & Customer Service Coordinator
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River Community College is once again trending for the Spring 2022 semester. The 10th Day Report has arrived, and PRCC has maintained its place as fourth largest community college in Mississippi. The college has also seen 17 consecutive semesters of outperforming the state headcount average. When comparing Spring 2022 to Spring 2021, PRCC saw an increase of .9 percent to 4,580 students.
“We are honored that a record number of students continue to choose Pearl River Community College,” said Dr. Adam Breerwood, PRCC President. “Our goal has always been to provide affordable and accessible educational opportunities. Our growth over the last 17 semesters is a result of a dedicated faculty who continue to work diligently to change the lives of our students daily.
“We remain dedicated to removing the obstacles that impede student success and providing clear pathways for our students to succeed in whatever career field they choose. While we are pleased with our enrollment growth, I believe our best days are still ahead of us.”
PRCC saw a slight 0.1 percent decrease in spring-to-spring credit hours at 59,340.
ACADEMICS Providing a variety of courses for students with high caliber instructors is at the core of PRCC’s approach to academics. Whether you’re a student seeking an associate degree before matriculating into a four-year school or a student in Career Technical Education looking to directly enter the workforce, PRCC is constantly aiming to provide the best possible classroom experience.
A big part of growing academics is the continued expansion of eLearning. Along with courses held exclusively online, instructors of traditional classes are embracing the digital. This includes building out their courses in Canvas and then using cameras in the classroom to record each class and allow students to remote into class when needed. They can receive training and assistance with Instructional Technology needs from eLearning.
“Enrollment in eLearning continues to be robust,” said Senior Vice President for Instruction/Provost Martha Smith. “The college is committed to providing services for students choosing to take online classes. To this end, additional personnel have been hired to help with online advisement and test proctoring.
“While there are courses that require hands-on learning, over time, instructors identified information that could be delivered via an online format thus allowing for smaller groups and social distancing during labs.”
MAKING COLLEGE AFFORDABLE One of the tenets of Dr. Breerwood’s presidency is to ensure education at Pearl River Community College is accessible and affordable. As a result, PRCC has maintained the same tuition rate for the last five years while continuing to add services and opportunities for students.
Making college affordable is done in part with scholarships for students in Academic, Allied Health, and Career Technical Education pathways to assist them with their educational goals.
For the 2021-22 school year, PRCC has provided more than $4.5 million in institutional scholarships. This includes academic and service scholarships.
Academic scholarships are based on either the student’s ACT score or successful completion of a CTE program at the high school level with at least a 3.0 GPA. The last four years has seen over 50% growth in the number of CTE scholarships awarded.
Students are also eligible for a variety of service scholarships for students involved in athletic and service endeavors while in college. Service scholarships can be stacked with academic or CTE scholarships. Service endeavors include activities such as The Spirit of the River Band, PRCC Cheer, PRCC Singers, River Navigators, and Resident Assistant.
Additionally, the PRCC Development Foundation has hundreds of scholarships students can qualify for through a simple application. These scholarships total over a million dollars each year and are made possible through the generosity of donors.
“While scholarships play a vital role in recruitment, the funding provides support throughout the student’s time at PRCC and helps to ensure that retention and graduation are obtained,” said Executive Director of Development Foundation/Alumni Association Delana Harris. “The combination of scholarships, student services and diverse offerings including online, night and weekend courses continues to allow PRCC to serve our communities with training and educational opportunities.
“This helps to ensure that our local economies grow and that our workforce needs are met.”
PROVIDING EXCELLENT EXPERIENCES Along with good experiences in the classroom, the college has also engaged in forward thinking that improves the overall experience someone has from the moment they express interest in PRCC.
Both the Business Office and Financial Aid Office have created processes that put student needs first and allow them to complete everything digitally. This includes the ability to view bills, set up payment plan options, and understand when their financial aid awards are readily available.
“The college has made great strides across the institution to improve processes, increase technology for digital interactions and improve communications to students to enhance better service,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management & Business Services Candace Harper. “Moving to having more things online is just one example of the commitment all of our departments are making to put the student experience first.”
Along with changes in the traditional administrative offices, PRCC recently opened The Wildcat Hub, a one stop shop for assistance. Their customer service agents are accessible through the chat feature of the PRCC website, from the mail phone number for the college, and from in person interactions in their newly created space inside Crosby Hall.
“We are excited to offer so many ways for the public, students, and future wildcats to connect with us and we are optimistic for what the future will bring” said Amanda Brumfield, co-director of the Wildcat Hub.
Since January, they have answered more than 1400 chats and during February handled over 700 phone calls. Their operational hours are expanding to be 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. for Monday through Thursday and then until 4 p.m. on Fridays. Any email inquiries and chat tickets are being answered within 24 hours.
“We are seeing an increase in attempted interactions with PRCC, compared to last year. We are proud to offer several different ways to communicate with PRCC and hope that having multiple contact options helps those who need us feel more comfortable reaching out,” said Hannah Miller, co-director of the Wildcat Hub.
REACHING OUT TO PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS PRCC Recruiters are back out in the community more often to make connections with students that may find The River a good fit for their career goals. In February, three days were spent with over 800 students visiting either Allied Health or Career Technical Education programs on the Forrest County and Poplarville campuses.
They are also spending more time on school visits, bringing information about the college to local high schools. This included a big “Pathway to PRCC” day held last November at Hancock High School where students learned about the County Tuition Assistance Program available for all Hancock County residents.
“In addition to on campus events, Recruiters have been able to once again personally guide students through the enrollment process on their ‘home turf’ with the re-opening of local schools,” said Coordinator of Recruitment and Marketing Kari Eve Valence. “We’ve engaged through Senior Information Sessions, Application Days, CTE & Allied Health Class Presentations, College Fairs, and attending several athletic events and awards days all in the hopes of helping prospective Wildcats seamlessly join the Wildcat Family.”
The next big event for prospective students is the second Wildcat Experience to be held on Tuesday, April 12 from 1 – 3 p.m. on The Green of the Centennial Courtyard on the Poplarville Campus. This free event allows juniors and seniors from across south Mississippi to get a taste of life at The River.
Tickets to the home baseball game against Hinds that afternoon and the PRCC Wind Ensemble Concert Band performance that evening will be given out to attendees. Interested students need to register at prcc.edu/wildcatexperience.