McARTHUR — University of Rio Grande will begin offering classes in McArthur Aug. 23, and a university official says it could lead to establishing a Vinton County branch if there is enough interest.

Initially, general education courses will be offered at the School Administration Building on West High Street for the 2010-11 academic year. Officials from the university have been at the administration building to register students and help them apply for financial aid.

Jake Bapst, transitions coordinator for University of Rio Grande, said the school is attempting to model the program after the one set up in Meigs County a few years ago.

Meigs began with a small program, such as the one that will be put in place in Vinton County. Within a short time, the program took off and became its own branch of the college and has added more than 200 students, Bapst said.

Bapst said the college is hoping to produce a similar success story in Vinton County.

“This is our attempt to get a running start with Vinton County,” Bapst said.

Bapst said the plan is to gauge the interest in the area by offering general education courses. If the demand is there, the college may add courses to fit the needs of the community.

Bapst said the benefit for the community is that students can, without leaving the county, earn their entire first year of semester credits. These credits can then be transferred anywhere in the state, Bapst said.

The college mainly targets residents who are older than 21 and have never attended college. Bapst said the scheduling for college courses offered in the county has been set up to fit the needs of participants in that age range.

By bringing the school to the community, Bapst said nearly all of the traditional college needs will be met without students having to leave the county. Any communication with the college can be completed over the phone or online. The books will be delivered to the administration building by university representatives, Bapst said.

Bapst said the college needs 10 students per class to be a success.

“We want to make as many educational opportunities for the citizens as possible,” Bapst said.

Classes for 2010 will include “Introduction to Writing, Reading and Learning Strategies,” “Composition I,” “Math Review,” “Freshman Success,” “Fundamentals of Speech,” “World Civilization I,” “Fine Arts” and “Introduction to Sociology.”

Representatives of Rio Grande will be meeting with residents who are interested in attending classes to discuss enrollment and financial aid options on Thursday, 1:30-4:30 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Aug. 12, 1:30-4:30 p.m.; and Aug. 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the administration building.

For information, call 1-800-282-7201.

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Paul McManis is a reporter for The Vinton County Courier.

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