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Fort Smith university to help students of closed Vista College

by Thomas Saccente | October 24, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
Andy Johnson, director of admissions and student relations for the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, speaks to former students of Vista College during an information session Wednesday. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Saccente)

FORT SMITH -- The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith is working to help students of the now-defunct Vista College continue their education.

The university held an information session on its campus and online Wednesday in which university faculty and staff talked about resources and answered questions from former Vista students.

Vista College, a chain of trade schools with a campus at 1200 S. Waldron Road in Fort Smith, abruptly closed Oct. 8, Arkansas Division of Higher Education officials said.

The college's Fort Smith campus had 354 students enrolled when it closed. An additional 69 Arkansas students were enrolled in the college's online programs. Vista College offered programs in health care; business; information technology; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and industrial maintenance.

Andy Johnson, director of admissions and student relations for the university, said it cannot accept class credits from Vista College. This is because all schools in the University of Arkansas System are accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, a regional institutional accreditation program, while Vista is not.

However, Johnson said university faculty can evaluate certain courses students have taken that apply to some of its certificate programs, potentially providing students credits in the process.

Aviance Taylor, director of the university's Gordon Kelley Academic Success Center, said the center offers alternative-credit testing. These are fee-based exams assessing college-level knowledge and provide a way to earn college credit to those who take them.

The university's Adult Degree Completion Program is also available for students 25 and older who have earned 30 or more credit hours at a regionally accredited university and have at least five years of work experience, according to Tina Root, director of the program.

Other topics included financial aid, Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, certificate programs the university offers and its Future Fit program, which is a no-cost certificate program designed to train students in the role of a production operator or assembler in an advanced manufacturing facility.

Tim Cornelius, vice president of career and workforce education at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, was also on the panel to talk about options available at his school. Mark Allen of the Guidance Center in Fort Smith was there to present his organization as a mental health services resource.

The university will provide $500 scholarships to displaced Vista students who enroll at the university, according to a Tuesday news release. Admissions applications can be filled out on the university's website.

Print Headline: UAFS to help students of closed Vista College

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