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Thompson Institute to close Chambersburg campus

August 22, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg campus of Thompson Institute will be closing next year, but students now taking classes will be able to complete their courses and those who have enrolled will have options through its Harrisburg, Pa., campus or Hagerstown Business College.

"That's part of the school and company's management of the situation," W. Christopher Motz, president of Hagerstown Business College, said Sunday night. Both the business college and Thompson Institute are owned by Kaplan Higher Education Corp., he said.

Approximately 140 students are taking classes at Thompson Institute's campus in the Norland Shopping Center north of Chambersburg, Motz said. He did not know how many students are enrolled whose classes had not yet begun.

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The Chambersburg campus offers medical assisting, office systems technology and electrical courses, he said. The college and Thompson offer "almost identical courses," except for electrical, which the college does not have, Motz said. He said he was unsure if electrical courses are offered at the Harrisburg campus.

"We had some of our admissions staff go to the campus last week," Motz said. Eight of 21 people who enrolled in the medical assisting courses scheduled to begin last week decided to enroll at HBC, he said.

Students enrolling at either the business college or the Harrisburg campus will receive $1,000 scholarships, Motz said. The scholarships are not available to students who either choose to go to other schools or who signed up for courses not offered at the two campuses, he said.

"The decision was really brought about by the expiration of the campus' long-term lease," Motz said. Available real estate options, he said, "didn't meet the campus' long-term plans."

"I was very surprised ... given the fact that Thompson has enjoyed a significant degree of success in the Chambersburg campus," Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said Sunday.

He said Thompson filled a need for post-secondary education, including electricians in an area where construction is booming.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to get some new providers in that area," he said.

"My understanding is they will deliver courses at the campus from now through June 2006," Ross said. The campus at 2593 Philadelphia Ave. opened in 2000, Executive Director Sherry Rosenberg said in an April 2004 interview.

"They've thrown us into a tailspin," said Susan Snyder of Clear Spring, whose son, Rodney, was to begin the electrical course at the campus in September.

"On the 17th, they sent out his orientation papers," Snyder said. On Friday, she received a call informing her the school was not accepting new students.

"Now, my husband and I are figuring out what to do next," she said. In order to keep their son covered by their health insurance, he has to be a student taking the equivalent of 12 credits, Snyder said.

Their main concern, however, is that their son be able to pursue the career of his choice, she said.

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