Established in 1965, Wilkes Community College serves as a resource for higher education in northwest North Carolina. This public, two-year, open door institution is a member of the North Carolina Community College System and strives to provide students with a comprehensive educational experience, offering basic skills, occupational, technical and pre-baccalaureate programs.
The college's main campus is located in Wilkesboro, off highways US 421 and NC 268 west, and sets on 150 acres. With more than 297,000 square feet of classrooms, laboratories, shops, student areas and offices, the campus serves about 3,500 students. Also located on the college's main campus is the John A. Walker Community Center, where students can enjoy performances throughout the year.
Students can earn associate degrees in a variety of areas, including accounting, computer information technology and marketing and retail. In addition, continuing education programs are offered where students can be trained to work in several fields, such as cosmetology and real estate. For individuals seeking to finish their high school education, Adult High School and GED programs are available.
The college also offers courses and programs of study in Ashe and Alleghany counties at the Alleghany Center of Wilkes Community College in Sparta and the Ashe Campus of Wilkes Community College in Jefferson. Both of these locations provide their respective counties with traditional curriculum courses, continuing education courses and Adult High School programs year-round. To ensure that the needs of all students are met, distance learning is available. Distance learning programs consist of telecourses, internet courses, teleconferences and courses provided in a cyber classroom.
Wilkes Community College is also home to MerleFest, the largest bluegrass and folk music festival in the United States. Started by Grammy-winning guitarist Doc Watson and singer Bill Young in 1988, the four-day event draws over 85,000 fans each April and serves as a major fundraiser for the college, with more than $7,280,000 raised since 2006.
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