Education fair helps Mountain State students figure out their futures

July 16, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Worried Mountain State University students, fearful of their educational futures since they learned their school was losing its accreditation, searched for options Monday at an education fair.

Among them were April Bennett, 29, of Martinsburg, a single mother with 77 credits toward a bachelor’s degree; and Fred Klein, 34, also of Martinsburg, with 112 credits. Both are worried about whether their Mountain State credits can be transferred to another school.

According to The Associated Press, the national Higher Learning Commission notified Mountain State officials last week that the private school based in Beckley, W.Va., does not meet its criteria for leadership, resources, planning and oversight.

In addition to Martinsburg, the school has satellite locations in Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina.

Mountain State officials are appealing the HLC’s decision.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the community coordinating body for the state’s 10 four-year public colleges and universities, is holding a two-day information and college fair exclusively for Mountain State students at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, “to provide them with educational options,” Kathy Butler, the policy commission’s vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said Monday.

The fair will be held again Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the two-year college at 400 W. Stephen St. The commission held a similar fair last week in Beckley for Mountain State students in that part of the state.

It is estimated that about 100 students attend Mountain State University in Martinsburg in traditional and online classes.

Mountain State students receiving financial aid from the PROMISE scholarship or West Virginia Higher Education Grant programs also were getting advice Monday, Butler said.

By 3 p.m. Monday, 33 students had attended the fair.

Among state schools represented Monday were Shepherd University, Blue Ridge Technical and Community College and West Virginia University.

Bennett is in her junior year working toward a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. She chose Mountain State because “it’s convenient and it has an accelerated program.”

“I can get a bachelor’s degree in two years,” she said. “We work through the summer and don’t get a break other than two weeks at Christmas.”

Tuition costs $4,500 a semester plus books and other costs, she said. Bennett is financing her education through student loans. Her total to date is $60,000, she said.

She said she has no plans to go back.

“My next choice is Shepherd, but I don't know how many of my credits they’ll take. Maybe 30 or 40. I don't know.”

Klein, 34, of Martinsburg, has been taking classes at Mountain State since 2009. He, too, is in the organizational leadership program and is 19 credits short of graduation.

A military veteran, Klein has not been to class since February, once he learned that Mountain State’s nursing program lost its accreditation.

“I knew this was coming,” he said.

He, too, isn’t sure how many of his credits can be transferred.

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