Pearl River sees 18th semester of outperforming state averages ranking number one with highest enrollment growth

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, February 9, 2023

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River hits a historic record, seeing 18 consecutive semesters of outpacing averages statewide. The River continues to blaze trails for growth while working toward the goal of making higher education affordable, accessible, and efficient.     

According to the 10th day enrollment report published by the Mississippi Community College Board, PRCC once again outpaces the state ranking number one with the highest numerical growth in enrollment. Since 2017, PRCC has seen an increase in enrollment growth for the spring semester of 17.2% while the state community college average has decreased by 15%. Pearl River has continued to grow and maintain its position as the 4th largest community college in Mississippi for the fourth consecutive semester.  

“We are thrilled and humbled by this report,” said PRCC President Adam Breerwood. “This record-breaking enrollment growth is a direct result of the vision instilled by our Board of Trustees to remain affordable, efficient and accessible for our students.  

“Our local universities have served as great allies in providing clear pathways for our transfer students. We have embraced our State Leadership’s charge to build a skilled workforce, especially in the fields of Allied Health and Nursing. Our enrollment is exploding in these areas. With over 500 students on the waiting list for college housing this spring, and hundreds more on waiting list for our Allied Health, Nursing and Career / Technical programs, I believe our best days are still ahead of us.”  
Many components can be attributed to the college’s success including focusing on high-demand programs that lead to high-paying careers, freezing tuition rates, retaining the best faculty and staff, continued growth in online course offerings, and increasing scholarship opportunities for all. 

PRCC leads the state in enrollment and credit hours for allied health programs at the community college level.  

The college currently offers twelve different allied health programs: Associate Degree Nursing (ADN), Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene Technology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Massage Therapy Technology, Medical Laboratory Technology, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Physical Therapist Assistant Technology, Practical Nursing (LPN), Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care Technology, and Surgical Technology.  

In the last two years, Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Massage Therapy Technology were added while both nursing programs were expanded. The additions were made after working with local employers to determine areas of high need. PRCC is looking to further expand how the college can work with employers and respond to their needs. 

Fall semester of 2021 saw the opening of two new dormitories on the Poplarville Campus. Although the dorms added 260 additional beds, a long waiting list of over 500 students seeking campus housing remains.  

Pearl River is committed to meeting the demands of our workforce. Thanks to a grant from AccelerateMS, the Wildcat Mobile Maintenance Training Unit can now bring training to worksites in the area. The mechanical maintenance training equipment found on board is used to deliver maintenance training boot camp sessions. The unit will also be used in support of credit classes at all campuses and for special training to be made available at Port Bienville and Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. 

For students in Hancock County, the construction of a new 53,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Aerospace & Aviation Academy will bring improved facilities for current programs while adding more options including Aviation Maintenance Technology.  

Keeping education at Pearl River Community College accessible and affordable has been achieved by Dr. Breerwood, the administration, and the Board of Trustees working together to freeze the base tuition rate for the last six years while continuing to add services and opportunities for students.  

Making college affordable is done in part with academic scholarships based on either the student’s ACT score or successful completion of a CTE program at the high school level with at least a 3.0 GPA. 

Students are also eligible for a variety of service scholarships based on involvement in athletics and service endeavors while in college. Service scholarships can be stacked with academic or CTE scholarships. Service endeavors include activities such as The Spirit of the River Band, PRCC Cheer, PRCC Singers, River Navigators, and Resident Assistant. 

Additionally, students can qualify for hundreds of scholarships managed by the PRCC Development Foundation. These scholarships total over a million dollars each year and are made possible through the generosity of donors. 

Another opportunity exists for residents of Forrest and Hancock counties. The County Tuition Assistance Program (CTAP) closes the gap between aid received from grants and scholarships and the cost of base tuition. Students are required to complete a FASFA form, the Foundation Scholarship application, and file for state financial aid as well as be a full-time student at PRCC. More information is found at 

Providing a variety of courses for students with high caliber instructors is at the core of PRCC’s approach to academics. Whether you’re a student seeking an associate degree before matriculating into a four-year school or a student in Career Technical Education looking to directly enter the workforce, PRCC is constantly aiming to provide the best possible classroom experience.  

Part of accessibility is meeting students where they are. This includes asynchronous courses delivered through the eLearning Campus. Online classes are popular with non-traditional students, including those who continue to work while furthering their education.  

Online enrollment has more than doubled during the last eight years. The number of students taking an online course saw a 113% increase while credit hours increased by 164%. Approximately 71% of students have at least one online class with 32% of students exclusively online.   

Students pursuing certificates or degrees in all Business Pathway Career Technical Programs (Accounting Technology, Business & Marketing Management Technology, Business Management Technology, and Medical Billing & Coding) can do so completely online.   

Along with good experiences in the classroom, the college has also engaged in forward-thinking that improves the overall experience someone has from the moment they express interest in PRCC. Admissions, the Business Office, and Financial Aid, key stops for prospective and current students, have streamlined their processes with many of them going fully digital. 

The Wildcat Hub, a one-stop shop for assistance, allows individuals to reach a customer service agent through the chat feature of the PRCC website, from the main phone number for the college, and in-person at their space on the first floor of Crosby Hall.    

One aspect of student life that has received a significant boost is the expansion of food service options. The Bistro space on the Poplarville Campus extended its hours of operation until early evening, providing students an option outside of normal cafeteria hours. The Forrest County Campus recently saw the addition of a food truck run by Aladdin Food Services three days a week to provide hot lunch options.  

For students attending The River, success can be measured by what comes after they complete a certificate or earn their associate degree.  

Allied Health, Career-Technical Education, and Workforce Development programs assist students to acquire the skills they need to secure positions that launch careers. Leadership in those areas works with local employers to create partnerships and unique opportunities for PRCC students. They also evaluate the needs of local communities to determine if new programs should be added. 

PRCC offers more than 40 different CTE pathways across its locations. The current list of options can be found at with links to each individual program’s information page. 

Area colleges and universities provide another path for life after PRCC, one that students are well equipped to do. The number of Pearl River students who transferred and graduated from Mississippi universities has increased by 46% since 2017. The state average is a 4.4% increase.  

The academic outcome is also seen in improved grade point averages. In 2017, the average GPA upon graduation with a bachelor’s degree was 3.03. As of this year, it is now 3.29. 

PRCC Recruiters and River Navigators work together on making connections with students that may find The River a good fit for their career goals. Prospective students may be introduced to the college through a community event, a school visit, or PRCC campus visits.  

Allied Health and Career Technical Education programs sponsor annual visit days for high school students to see the variety of programs offered. The Fine Arts and Communications Department hosts an annual Fine Arts Day in November to showcase different opportunities and provide students the opportunity to audition for groups.  

Prospective students can schedule their personal campus tour by visiting the Office of Recruitment’s digital scheduler at 

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG).