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New year, new look

Portland Community College’s Hillsboro Center is throwing its doors open this fall and welcoming students with a revamped schedule, more classes, more subject options and personalized service.

Originally opened 2010 at its current site, 775 S.E. Baseline St., the four-classroom satellite center sits directly across from Tuality Hospital in Hillsboro’s Health Education District, and at street-level in the city’s Intermodal Transit Facility.

With money from PCC’s voter-approved 2008 construction bond, the PCC Hillsboro Center got a facelift recently with new graphics, better signage and storefront identification.

“People drive by here all the time,” said center coordinator Steven Swint. But many, when asked, don’t know where the PCC Hillsboro Center is.

Last spring, said Jason Johnson, Hillsboro’s program manager, PCC polled the students at the center.

“We got a lot of surprising information,” he said.

According to Johnson, students want to take multiple, back-to-back classes.

So the Hillsboro staff revamped the schedule, added additional credit classes and started spreading the word via a new marketing campaign.

What’s available at the center now, said Johnson, is a first-year college model — blocks of credit classes offered at more convenient times.

“Core classes, transferable credits; it’s what students need and want,” said Swint. Beginning this fall, students attending the Hillsboro Center can complete enough core credits to satisfy their first-year college requirements.

Center staff has added a political science course and an environmental science course beginning this fall. Students can also take core courses such as writing, math and elective courses including drawing and digital photography. Oregon’s Poet Laureate Peter Sears teaches a Writing 121 class.

In addition, Johnson said, the center offers one of just four beginning graphic design classes in the PCC system.

Swint is a familiar face at the center, always available at the front desk for students and visitors in need of academic advising and financial aid guidance.

He wants the center to be what he calls a “soft landing” for first-year college students. Swint said he guides new students through the application and testing they need before beginning classes.

“We try to make it as easy as possible,” Swint said.

The compact facility houses four classrooms that can function as art rooms or lecture halls, or for small groups to work together. There’s a dedicated computer lab and a quiet study room for students, as well as a commons area.

The Hillsboro Center will host an open house Sept. 29 for those interested in taking a tour and getting additional information.