Bluefield University in the News


by | Apr 25, 2016

Women from Appalachia who haven’t had access to higher education or whose circumstances have left them in poverty or some other financial or personal predicament now have hope for a new beginning, thanks to the New Opportunity School for Women at Bluefield College.

In fact, the New Opportunity School for Women at Bluefield College is looking for women to be a part of its next life-changing program – a three-week residential experience on the BC campus, May 15 through June 4, 2016, designed to help participants confront their circumstances, overcome their conditions, and pave the way for a new and better life.



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 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.


The NOSW expanded to a second site at Lees-McCrae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, in 2005, and is now celebrating its fourth year in the Appalachian regions of Virginia and West Virginia through the establishment the third location at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia.


“From the first step I took onto the Bluefield College campus I knew I had come to a loving, caring place,” said Stephenson. “Every person I met was concerned about others and wanted to help people become better educated and have a fulfilling life. Statistically, we knew that West Virginia and certain parts of Virginia had many people that were low income, especially many women. So, Bluefield seemed an ideal place for an expansion site for the New Opportunity School for Women.”


Stephenson said she’s “excited” about the expansion of the NOSW into southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia and “thrilled” that Bluefield College is the site for that expansion. Partnerships with colleges, she added, create a special opportunity for the NOSW to reach rural Appalachian women who may not consider higher education otherwise.


“I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina in a very isolated small town. I knew even then that women didn’t have the opportunities that men had and that there were very different expectations for women than men,” said Stephenson. “I want Appalachian women to have more opportunities for themselves and their families, especially through becoming more educated and ultimately having a career with benefits and increased income for their families.”


The NOSW fulfills that mission through residential programs at its college sites. The 2016 residential program at Bluefield College starts May 15, and the college is already accepting applications for the three-week experience that Meg Quinn, director of the BC NOSW, says is life-changing.


“If you are willing to learn, and you want to improve your life and your life circumstances, then this program is for you,” said Quinn, “especially women who just need a boost up and loving support. We have people here who will believe in you and help you realize you can do things you never thought you could. It is amazing how three weeks can change your life.”


Designed for women in Appalachia who have experienced difficult circumstances, but still have an eagerness to learn, improve their lives and become more self-sufficient, the BC New Opportunity School is open to women with a high school diploma or GED (or those working toward a GED). There is no cost to attend, and all books, meals and campus housing are covered by grants and awards. Funds are also available for childcare and transportation, if needed.


The three-week session, May 15 through June 4, includes academic study, cultural experiences, personal development, job search training, college preparation, and leadership development. Participants work 50 hours per week on a curriculum that includes a distinctive focus on Appalachian literature, creative writing, personal reflection, the Appalachian culture, and cultural experiences in theater, museums and historical sites.


The NOSW program also includes personal support in the form of career counseling, group reflection, makeovers, dress for success resources, and health screenings – all designed to create a sense of pride and self-worth. In fact, the NOSW care continues even after the residency with coaching, career guidance, workshops, reunions, internships, higher education opportunities, scholarship opportunities, clothing resources, and continued networking with the “sisterhood” of NOSW graduates.


“We are here to encourage, love and support the participants of this program and help them realize how strong they really are,” said Quinn, a 2010 alumna of the NOSW program who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Lees-McRae College before becoming the first NOSW graduate to advance to director of the program. “We have the tools and the help they need. Take a chance and come find out how to be the best you can be.”


To find out more about the New Opportunity School for Women, even apply online for the May 2016 session at Bluefield College, visit Interested applicants may also contact Quinn by phone at 276-326-4257 or by e-mail [email protected] for more information or to receive and submit an application by postal mail.

Bluefield University

[email protected]276.326.4212

Do I only apply once?

  • No. Students must apply each academic year for the fall semester and submit the necessary documents.

Do I have to take the classes specified in the Associate's Degree tracks as they are listed on the information sheet?

  • No. Students may take any of the courses that are offered in a given term.

Where do I find the textbook listing, and where do I purchase the books?

  • Log in to myBU, and under the "Student" tab, you will find a list of the textbooks required (if any) for each course. Students are responsible for purchasing their own textbooks.

How long is a semester?

  • Our semesters are divided into two 8-week terms.

Is there an orientation?

  • Yes. Students can attend an orientation session that explains how to access courses, how to register for classes, and answers other questions.

Where can I find a course description?

Does the student need to take the SAT or ACT in order to take Dual Enrollment classes?

  • No. If a student decides to study at BU full time, BU is currently test-optional for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.

Are the classes live? Do students need to log in and participate at certain times?

  • Classes are offered online, so a student can log-on and study at their convenience and their own pace. Students have assignments due each week; you can complete your assignments at any point in time before the deadline.

Does an Early College student need to come to campus for anything?

  • No. However, we would love to have you visit our campus if you are interested in continuing with traditional on-campus study. Students who complete their associate's degree have the option to walk at our commencement ceremony.

Are Early College students able to receive Financial Aid?

  • No. However, Early College courses are very affordable compared to other options. The cost for an online Dual Enrollment course is $100 per credit hour.

How do transferring credits work?

  • Each College or University completes a transcript review in order to decide which courses transfer. Sticking to general education classes generally makes transferring credits simple. All Early College courses at Bluefield University are general education classes that should transfer to another accredited institution.

Is an Early College student considered, and treated, as a transfer student when they become a full-time college student if they have earned enough credits to be a Junior?

  • No. Since they have not graduated from high school, they are considered a first-time college student regardless of how many credits transfer. However, by transferring credits when they enroll as a full-time student, they will have to take fewer classes to receive their bachelor's degree, which shortens the length of time to earn the degree.

Can I speak to someone if I have more questions?

  • Yes. Please contact the Office of Admissions by email or you can call them at 276.326.4231


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