Jefferson State a college for anyone in community
by Gary Hanner
Jul 19, 2012 | 2375 views |  0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When classes begin in the fall, enrollment at the Pell City site of Jefferson State Community College will be at 650.
When classes begin in the fall, enrollment at the Pell City site of Jefferson State Community College will be at 650.
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Jefferson State Community College’s Pell City site opened in the fall of 2006 at 500 College  Circle just off Interstate 20.
 
The 47,500 square-foot building has three floors, with the St. Clair County Economic Development Council housed on the third floor. Also on the third floor is the GED program.
 
Dr. Judy Merritt has been president of Jeff State for the past 33 years.
 
Initially, the enrollment at the Pell City site was less than 300. When the fall starts, enrollment will be at 650.
 
There are full-time professors at the Pell City site, small class to teacher ratios, and individual attention to students. Class sizes range from fewer than 10 students per class to about 25 students per class.
 
Enrollment specialist Marie Manning calls it the “best bang for your buck.”
 
“Students can attend Jeff State and work toward many two-year degrees, many one-year certificates, and any transfer program to a four-year school,” Manning said. “We can accommodate them. 
 
“I help advise students, and work with all the high schools in St. Clair County. I address the needs there of the students through the dual enrollment program, and applications for scholarships.”
 
Manning said she visits with several civic organizations that she is a member of to keep the community knowledgeable about what’s going on at Jeff State.
 
“Out in the county, my role is to be the face of Jeff State, the good neighbor,” she said.
 
Manning said one of he highlights at the Pell City site is that high school students in St. Clair County could also attend Jeff State while in high school.
 
“We even had an eighth-grade student who attended Jeff State with her mother,” Manning said. “She just graduated this year from St. Clair County High School in Odenville.”
 
Manning said state policy allows sophomore, junior and senior students to attend as dual enrollment students.
 
“That means they get credit in high school and credit in college,” Manning said. “We have had many students leave this county with 26 to 28 hours of credit, and go on to a four-year college as a freshman.”
 
Jim Blackburn is director of Jeff State’s instructional site in Pell City.
 
“The reason we call it a site is because it is not a campus yet,” Blackburn said. “It is an instructional site.”
 
Basic tuition at Jeff State is $140 per semester hour; for a 3-hour course, the cost is $420.
 
Manning said Jeff State may be the most important function in St. Clair County “because it allows students who are not yet ready to live away from home, or who cannot afford to live away from home, a place to get an education after high school.”
 
“It also allows them to do that at a much cheaper rate than if they were going to a four-year college,” she said.
 
Manning pointed out that the college is not just for students who may be coming out of high school.
 
“We are a community college,” she said. “We are a college for anyone in this community who wants to go back to school, retool for another job, get an education, or just take some courses.”
 
Manning noted that anyone 60 years or older can go to college tuition free, but they do have to pay the fees.
 
This past January, Jeff State’s Pell City site started offering the RN program.
 
For more information about Jeff State, call 205-812-2700.

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