Rural residents of Bollinger County likely will get easier access to college courses as early as this fall as a result of a needs survey that listed post-secondary education as a high priority.
In May, the Bollinger County Community Development Committee received the results of its survey, which was sent to all high school juniors as well as some parents in the county's four school districts. Around 160 surveys were returned.
Now, Three Rivers Community College is planning to offer some courses in the county's four high schools this fall.
There is no college in Bollinger County, which means residents must travel to Three Rivers in Poplar Bluff, Mo., Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Mo., or Southeast Missouri State University to take courses.
"We were surprised at how positive people were about this. People are anxious to see classes set up, especially seniors, because then they could take college classes in high school," said Gary Brewer, co-chairman of the community development committee.
Two other adult education institutions -- Southeast Missouri State University and the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center -- have expressed an interest in offering some form of courses in Bollinger County.
Southeast spokeswoman Ann Hayes said the university hopes to eventually expand its Internet-based course program to Bollinger.
"We're still involved in the planning for higher education classes there," Hayes said. "Probably not this fall, but sometime in the future."
Brewer said he has also spoken with officials at the Career and Technology Center about offering vocational classes in the technology and health-care fields.
"We're not ruling anything out. TRCC will be a sort of pilot program and we'll see where we can go from there," Brewer said.
According to Three Rivers spokeswoman Charlotte Wolpers Craig, the college tentatively plans to offer general education courses such as public speaking, psychology and algebra this fall. Successfully completed courses could be counted as credit at Three Rivers or transferred to another college or university.
Three Rivers offers courses at several regional sites, including Kennett, Mo., Malden, Mo., and Sikeston, Mo.
The classes proposed for Bollinger County would be among the few that Three Rivers offers outside of the community college's district.
Craig said Three Rivers financial aid and admissions representatives will hold an initial meeting for those interested in the courses from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. June 8. For more information, call (877) TRY-TRCC, extension 690.
335-6611, extension 128