WASHINGTON, N.C.— The United States Department of Education awarded $1,237,500 for the creation of a centralized advising center at Beaufort County Community College.

The Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development (RPED) program grant will fund four full-time positions and early alert software to help students choose the right career or transfer option for them and then to stay on track until graduation.

The college chose to focus on advising for its quality enhancement plan through its last accreditation process three years ago. At that time, BCCC implemented a summer advising center that has helped students navigate enrollment. The summer advising center is open to all students and is staffed by faculty who are trained as advisors, but during the fall and spring semesters, students are assigned to individual faculty members who serve as their advisors.

While this process works for many students, it is less ideal for students from families with limited college experience. These students require more time and attention as they explore degree options and align their curricular choices with career plans or plans for university transfer. These students require a more controlled, centralized advising model that provides continuous, individualized attention.

“We must focus on the success of our most vulnerable students if we are to succeed as a college,” said Dr. Dave Loope, BCCC President. “ By creating a centralized, continuous advising process, we can assist the students that we know have the greatest chance of dropping or stopping out.” Through the grant, BCCC will restructure its current student advising process by developing a centralized advising center for all students who have enrolled in fewer than 16 credit hours as well as all students who transfer into the college for the first semester of their BCCC experience. After students complete 16 credit hours, they will be transferred to a faculty instructor within their respective program.

The college will also purchase early alert software called AVISO that helps advisors track students’ success and enables them to intervene if the student is at risk of failing classes.

The centralized advising center and its components, including the early alert software, will create a culture of holistic academic support designed to reduce student withdrawals and help ensure the success of students from all backgrounds.

The grant will fully fund the advising center, after which the college will absorb expenses into its own budget.

The purpose of the RPED grant program is to improve rates of postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion among rural students through the development of high-quality career pathways aligned to high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand industry sectors and occupations in the region.