Virginia College students' advocates concerned over options; local schools providing choices

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) - There are many unanswered questions from students following the closure of Virginia College.  

"They don't know where to go, they don't know where to get the answers, they don't know if their transcripts or their credits will be transferred," former instructor turned advocate Patricia Boose said.

She has concerns over the fact the closure came as a surprise to many.

"I've got students that calling me contacting me about they have finished the program in November and their concern is will they still get their diploma. Is it still going to be accreditation." 

She taught a number of courses including business-related ones.  The signs of the business going under, she says, was written on the wall. 

"They were cutting back staff. They were letting program directors go. They were not hiring. They had cut down on the office equipment," she recalled.

Now she wants local schools to re-look at their programs for former students. "To see if they could assist these students that would be a great idea," she said.

One school that's looking to answer at least one of those unanswered questions, Georgia Institute of Cosmetology. "We are trying to not only help with placing the students at one of our CSRA locations but also the staff members as well," Dean of Admissions Kaylyn St. Jean said.

After learning of the school closure, she wanted to lead a helping hand. "It was one of those things like what can we do to help?" she recalled.

The school is making a big commitment to displaced cosmetology students. "We are going to take their transfer hours, we are going to waive any registration fees, we're going to make paperwork just as easy as possible and get them started as of Monday."

With financial aid on the minds of some, at GIC, they say, you need not worry. "That's for the school to worry about and not the student," St. Jean added.

Georgia Institute of Cosmetology is not alone.  On Monday, Helms College wills tart reviewing transcripts and financial aid packages to help students.  Paine College is currently interviewing and accepting, upon condition, business administration students.  

"I think its very unethical how [Education Corporation of America] did it. They should have allowed the students or told them or gave them notice and I believe they could have," Boose added.

Many are reaching out on social media and emails asking if there are resources to get in touch with former students and instructors about new opportunities.  We are working to learn that information but in the meantime, send NewsChannel 6 your job or career services announcements. 

With the holiday season upon us, Boose is making an appeal to local businesses. "If there are any businesses out there that are hiring even part time, full time, temporary, seasonal, also contact WJBF on these students behalf," she added.

She said her door is always open to those who need a helping hand.

"I am here for them. They are welcomed to contact me. If I can still help them in any way, I'll be glad to," she said. She is available on Facebook.

"We want to be advocates for the students cause when students know and see a familiar face, it's someone they can trust," former student turn advocate Lawrence Freedman said.

The Georgia Institute of Cosmetology is looking to fill staff positions at the Augusta campus by people displaced by the closure. You're asked to bring a copy of your resume to the location and be prepared for an interview.

Also, ATC Development is looking to fill two administrative-type positions. 


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