A regional jewel

Published 5:42 pm Saturday, January 15, 2011

One of Western Tidewater’s most important institutions is thriving in a difficult economy.

Paul D. Camp Community College posted record enrollment of 1,656 students in the fall semester, up 10.4 percent from the fall of 2009.

That feat is a credit to the college’s sterling reputation — and proof of the growing appreciation for the value of a community-college education.

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High unemployment has many adults rethinking their career prospects and, in many cases, seeking new skill sets. The loss of International Paper Co.’s Franklin mill was a rude reminder of the rapid decline of American manufacturing jobs. Many displaced mill workers are going back to school to obtain skills that will make them more marketable in an economy that is increasingly service- and technology-oriented. PDCCC is doing a terrific job of meeting that demand.

For high-school students, community college is quite a financial bargain compared with the tuition and fees of four-year schools. Teenagers can continue to live at home and get their prerequisite courses under their belt before transferring.

Western Tidewater is fortunate to have such an attractive higher-education option right in its back yard.

— The Tidewater News