Bluefield College NOSW

Women from Appalachia who haven’t had access to higher education or whose circumstances have left them in poverty, shame, or some other financial or personal predicament now have hope for a new beginning.

Thanks to the creation of the New Opportunity School for Women at Bluefield College, these women have the opportunity to confront their circumstances, overcome their conditions, and pave the way for a better life.

How it all Began

The New Opportunity School for Women was founded by Jane B. Stephenson in 1987 at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, out of an urgent need to help women in Appalachia become better educated and employed. The NOSW expanded to a second site at Lees-McCrae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina in 2005, and is now celebrating its growth into the Appalachian regions of Virginia and West Virginia through the establishment of a third location at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia.

Visit the NOSW Foundation


The New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) is designed to improve the educational, financial, and personal circumstances of low-income, under-educated, middle-aged women in the Appalachian region.

Fulfillment of the Mission

Fourteen women will be chosen to come to the Bluefield College campus in Bluefield, Virginia, to participate in a life-changing three-week residential program. The program is held each year in June. At the end of the experience, graduates will go on to accomplish personal and professional goals they never thought possible.

Instruction in the Residential Program

Areas of Training

  • Career development, including internships, resumé writing, interview skills, interest/personality inventories, computer basics, and leadership development.
  • Educational development, with a focus on Appalachian literature, women’s health issues, creative writing, journaling, public speaking, and professional mentoring.
  • Personal development, with tips on building self esteem, professional presentation, interview wardrobe, self-defense, and even a makeover.
  • Cultural development, including regional field trips, pot luck suppers, fun/recreation, theatre/arts activities.


There is no cost for attending the New Opportunity School for Women. Rooms and meals will be provided at no cost to the participants. Grants for travel and childcare are available; however, childcare cannot be provided on campus during the three-week school. Funding has been generously provided by friends of the New Opportunity School for Women.

Who Can Attend

Women who are eligible:

  • Are from the Appalachian region of Virginia or West Virginia.
  • Have completed high school, or have or are working on a GED, but do not have a college degree.
  • Are approximately between the ages of 30 and 55.
  • Have low income.
  • Demonstrate motivation and an eagerness to learn.
  • Are committed to remaining on campus for the entire three-week program, including weekends.

Become a supporter today to help make it possible for even more women to enjoy the rewards of the New Opportunity School. During the online giving process, be sure to select the "New Opportunity School for Women" donor category.

Make a Gift

Upcoming Residential Program

The next three-week residential program for the New Opportunity School at Bluefield College will run from July 15th–August 4th, 2018.

The Application Process

Applications for the NOSW residential program should be submitted by mid-March to ensure consideration. Finalists will be interviewed either in person or by telephone. Applicants will be expected to express what they hope to accomplish in their personal life through the experience of the New Opportunity School for Women. Those chosen to participate in the residential program will be notified by early April.

To attend the New Opportunity School for Women at Bluefield College, complete and submit the online application below. To request an application be sent to you, please e-mail . Completed forms may be mailed to:

Director of the New Opportunity School for Women
Bluefield College
3000 College Avenue
Bluefield, VA 24605

New Opportunity School for Women Application
General Information

Please read and follow the directions carefully. If a question does not apply to you, write in the blank “not applicable” or “N/A”.



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Driver's License*

Health Insurance*

Medical Card*

Information requested is voluntary. It will not be used in making an admissions decision, but is collected for Institutional research and reporting purposes.

Educational Experience

Please list and give the dates of any high schools, colleges, business, or vocational schools that you have attended and degrees or certificates awarded to you, including a GED.

Job Experience

List any jobs that you have held since high school and the approximate date you held the job. Briefly describe your duties in each position. Please start with your most recent work experience.

Are you currently employed?*

Have you previously had career courses or career counseling?*

Have you applied to a college or vocational school within the last year? *

Have you been accepted?


Because the New Opportunity School seeks to serve those of limited financial resources, income will be a strong consideration in choosing participants for the program. (Be prepared to submit recent tax forms if requested.)

For example: your work, your husband’s work, alimony, welfare benefits, etc.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor by any court, including local, state, federal, or military?*

I give my permission for a background check.*

If selected, I agree to attend the entire three-week program of the New Opportunity School for Women and participate fully in all scheduled activities.*

Letters of Reccomendation

Attach to this application two letters of recommendation from people who know you well (i.e., ministers, teachers, employers, social workers, volunteer coordinators, or relatives). Please ask that they describe their relationship to you, how long they have known you, and why they feel you would be a good candidate for this program. They should also include their contact information and phone number on their letter.


Please write one or more pages about why you want to attend the New Opportunity School for Women and how you think it will help you. Feel free to discuss any unique circumstances that you think merit consideration. Without this personal statement and two letters of recommendation, your application will not be considered.