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Virtual Preview Days provide peek into college world for high school students

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Admissions and Recruitment staff.

Portland Community College’s Preview Days have always been some of the best recruitment tools that the college has to introduce area high school students to the benefits of starting their college journeys at a community college.

But with PCC campuses closed and services and classes moved entirely online or remote, the challenge of giving prospective students a taste of what PCC has to offer has become immense. Gone for the foreseeable future are the in-person tours of campuses and presentations, but the core messages of the benefits of starting college at PCC have remained the same.

Like with everything at PCC, Preview Days have gone virtual. On Jan. 13, the first Virtual Preview Day of 2021 attracted more than 200 prospective students, who learned more about PCC’s academic programs and had their questions answered on how to reach their college goals. The college will host two more Virtual Preview Days from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Feb. 17 and April 21, and prospective students can sign up at the PCC Virtual Preview Days webpage.

Student on iPad.

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During the January virtual event, high schoolers received valuable information on how to prepare to attend PCC, heard about programs, degrees and certificates, spent time interacting with PCC faculty and staff in breakout rooms, and learned about how to secure college financial aid and apply for scholarship opportunities.

“PCC has really great resources,” said student advocate Bruno Lux-Bellmyer to the attendees. Lux-Bellmyer earned his GED at PCC and is currently working toward an associate degree through the Future Connect Scholarship Program. The biology major volunteers at the college’s STEM Center as well as the identity-based centers like the Queer Resource Center to help students navigate resources.

“There is a really great sense of community,” he said. “There are so many identity-based resources to help you get connected in the community and there are people that can look out for you, including counseling services if you are having a hard time. It’s a huge part of why I’ve stuck with PCC.”

The online version starts with a general welcome session in webinar style before having the students attend breakout sessions on Zoom. Staff discuss the reasons why PCC is such a smart start to a college career, including the size of the college (largest college in the state), the more than 90 academic and career-technical programs offered, affordability, no entry fees or academic requirements, flexible classes and plenty of support services and resources.

In the chat, students can ask the staff direct questions about PCC and college life. For example, one student inquired about what PCC’s student-to-instructor ratio was (19 to 1) while another asked about disability services and transferring credits to four-year institutions.

“I learned a lot about PCC,” said one student on a survey. “Community college is not something I am familiar with, so it was useful to hear advisors and students talk about it.”

Following the event, staff host a Virtual Resource Fair to help the attendees understand the myriad of services they can access while at PCC.

Breakout sessions like “Paying for College” and “University Transfer,” as well as degree- and certificate-focused rooms are available for the high school students to join via Zoom to listen to staff and pose questions. For example, roughly 40 attended “Paying for College” where recruitment, financial aid and PCC Foundation staff presented and answered questions.

“It was amazing!” added another high schooler. “So much information. I did learn a lot. I think PCC is a great college for me to start in.”

Rod Johnson, program coordinator for PCC Foundation.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Public Relations Manager at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic, Wo... more »

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