Northern Pennsylvania Regional College has quickly become the solution for the two big obstacles rural students deal with in Pennsylvania: cost and access. Northwestern Pennsylvania is a traditional higher ed dead zone. With industry declines and steady population loss, the area has had a hard time attracting people, companies, and a traditional college institution. NPRC is a two-year regional college that differs from typical schools with its “nontraditional delivery system.” Instead of having one central campus where all students go, there’s a network of satellite classrooms in schools or libraries across the region, where students and instructors connect through real-time video conferencing.
Nationally, rural students attend and complete four-year colleges at lower rates than their urban and suburban counterparts. Furthermore, if rural students are not able to utilize their degrees in the region, it’s likely that they will leave to seek employment elsewhere, further accelerating rural population loss. Along with filling the need for a degree, the rising costs of college tuition can be daunting for many families, especially those in rural areas. NPRC essentially acts as a low-cost community college for northwestern PA.
NPRC has taken away almost all of the additional expenses that students often incur in higher education, reducing costs down to about one-seventh of what students would pay for a similar institution. Only 29% of rural students between ages 18-24 enrolled in colleges or universities in 2015. With the lack of physical access to higher education, it’s logistically difficult for rural students to leave home to go to college or university. This is just one area where NPRC has started to fill the community college gap for the Northwestern PA region.
NPRC has been actively getting involved in the local communities by reaching out to students and adult learners to explain the advantages of getting a degree or certification. Recently, NPRC has been featured on some quality online community resources such as WPSU & WITF.
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