Students concerned as National College closes Knoxville campus

National College's location in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – National College is closing its Knoxville campus Friday.

The for-profit school awards associate degrees in subjects like medical assisting, which prepares students for entry-level positions in a doctor’s office. At the end of December, National College transitioned to what is called a “University Educational Resource Center,” which means there are limited administrative services and most support is handled remotely.

Angela Noe, Tiffany Beets and Whitney Jackson are among the half a dozen students that have been on campus since January. The school prides itself on finding jobs for its graduates, but the three women say there are few administrators are on campus to counsel them and reaching someone on the phone to assist them is difficult.

“Everything is gone. We can’t even do our class work that we need to do. These are the only two computers we have and this one is broke,” said Jackson.

Angela Noe, Tiffany Beets and Whitney Jackson around the one working computer at the school’s library.

The three women, who are studying medical assisting, said they chose National College because of smaller classes and better interaction with teachers. They said things went well until they were told the 10-week winter session would be their last on this campus.

“We come in one day and wondered why our financial aid people are gone. Our teachers were starting to be pushed out the door,” said Beets.

At the campus’ empty library, the three said they have had problems logging into the computers. Noe said at their laboratory classroom, the equipment they use for classes was packed up two weeks before classes ended. She said she needs the lab to complete her classwork before the campus closes.

“We paid good money to go here. We’re not getting a good education that we need. We’re not getting the help that we need to get,” said Jackson.

Attending National College isn’t cheap. The women have accumulated a large amount of student debt since enrolling. Jackson and Betts both have $63,000 in student loans since they enrolled in June 2017.

 

Also, Beets and Jackson said they’re incorrectly enrolled in two classes this term. However, they said with few staff members on campus to help them. They blame administrative errors for zeros on their transcripts.

“We’ve talked with numerous people to try to get it taken off our account,” said Jackson.

WATE 6 On Your Side contacted National College at its headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia. Chuck Steenburgh, a spokesperson at the school said he was surprised to learn of issues raised by the students, but said the school takes their student’s concerns seriously.

Steenburgh said the school is “worked with all currently enrolled students to ensure that they would have the opportunity to complete their program of study.” So, “students can finish either through a combination of online classes, video conferencing and courses at another National College campus.”

To the “best of our knowledge,” said Steenburgh, “the needs of all students have been met.” However, the students said because of faulty computers at the school, online classes and video conferencing have been difficult to access.

In WATE 6 On Your Side’s inquiry, we asked about the science lab, why it was being packed up weeks before school closed. The spokesman said — a regional director ensured that all lab materials required for students to complete their work were available for students to use.

Noe said she is worried about her situation. She said she is going to drive to National College’s Bristol campus to finish in June. Beets and Jackson are hoping their credits will transfer to another school with similar classes.

National College says there will be no more classes in this building. That “any new students in the area have been enrolled in distance education courses.” They claim they have met the needs of their currently-enrolled students.

The college said recent enrollment patterns have shifted away from more traditional classes to a higher proportion of distance learning, but the women who spoke to WATE 6 On Your Side said they orginally signed up for those traditional classes.

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