Somerset Community College recently unveiled a new program titled the University Center of Southern Kentucky which will allow students to obtain a bachelor’s degree from another university in the state while staying on Somerset Community College’s campus.

The universities that are founding partners with Somerset Community College are Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, Morehead State University and University of Kentucky. EKU currently offers the most programs to students, with an in-person criminal justice bachelor’s program and 19 online programs including studies such as accounting, political science, psychology, business and police studies.

“I’ve been involved in this in a couple other schools and I can tell you this is a great way for students who are trying to figure out where they want to go,” said Dr. Carey Castle, president of Somerset Community College. Castle said students will be able to get two years of college experience at a reduced price at Somerset Community College and then move on to a different program while saving on expenses like meal plans or room and board, since these costs won’t be applicable to students taking classes in Somerset.

Luckily for students in the Laurel County and Somerset area, this will not affect tuition at Somerset Community College in any way.

Castle also bragged on Trent Pool, the director of the University Center of Southern Kentucky, for organizing this program in such a short amount of time.

Somerset Community College doesn't have a certain number of students it is trying to attract with this new program, but is hoping to bring on as many as possible. The future of this program will depend on how many students it will be able to attract, since this will show what students have a need for and want to study.

According to Somerset Community College’s website, “the partnership between the University Center of Southern Kentucky and the participating universities was created based on community demands, workforce needs and student access.”

Castle added it’s important for parents to realize how unique of an opportunity this is, since it is another way Somerset Community College is offering higher education while subverting the stereotypical high price of college that pushes both parents and students into debt.

Currently, the combined cost of room and board plus a meal plan at EKU is $9,788, according to the financial aid section of the school’s website, so the University Center of Southern Kentucky could basically save families $10,000 a year.

“Essentially, it’s just figuring out whether you want to go into a career pathway, continue on with a master’s degree or whatever your next step is,” Castle said.

Castle said this also gives students the opportunity to stay at home with their parents if they wish, or at least save themselves the risk of going to a university hundreds of miles away when they are not sure of the outcome. “It’s just good all the way around.”

If someone has questions about the University Center of Southern Kentucky program then they can contact Pool at trent.pool@kctcs.edu.

ccoyle@sentinel-echo.com

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