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Getting to know your neighbor: Genesee Community College at Arcade offers students a leg up

WELCOME SIGN — GCC at Arcade has expanded since it began offering classes in the 1980s, including the opening the Campus Center at 25 Edward St. Photos by Joshua Gordon.

ARCADE — Since the 1980s, when Genesee Community College offered classes through Pioneer High School, the college’s Arcade campus has expanded its enrollment and its involvement with the community. In 1994, the school acquired its own facilities – known as the Campus Center – at 25 Edward St. The Arcade campus has now grown to serve 200 – 300 students each semester, and employ 39 faculty and five staff members.

According to student adviser and night staffer Christopher Schneider, the campus offers a helpful and tight-knit atmosphere for students. “We have a lot of very dedicated staff,” Schneider said. “There are a lot of people here who will work closely with [students].”

Student Juli Kennedy, 20, of Fillmore, said she appreciates what she calls the “nice and small” class sizes offered by the Arcade campus. “You’re not competing with other students [for attention],” said Kennedy.

The Campus Center uses technology to complement its hands-on approach to education. The center houses two computer labs and seven classrooms, five of which are furnished with SMART Boards – enhanced white boards equipped with hardware and software that allow teachers to present multimedia lessons. Students can also interact with those lessons, using hand-held “clickers.”

GCC offers several classes at its main campus in Batavia, about 40 miles north of Arcade. Online classes allow students with an Internet connection to take some of those courses, without traveling to other campuses.

WISE GUY — GCC at Arcade staffer Chris Schneider shows off one of the Campus Center’s SMART Boards

The Campus Center is also outfitted with distance learning equipment, which allows students at the Arcade campus to take courses offered remotely, and to interact with teachers and other students, using video conferencing technology.

Online and distance learning technology has helped GCC at Arcade expand its course offerings to include more than 50 classes, as part of more than 60 majors, including criminal justice, nursing, computer science and business. The campus also offers hands-on art classes, a kiln for firing pottery and courses in fine arts.

Students at the Arcade campus come from all over Western New York, including Springville, Collins and elsewhere in Erie, Wyoming, Allegany, Livingston and Cattaraugus counties and beyond.

“People hear ‘Genesee Community College’ and think ‘Genesee County,’ but we have students from all over,” said Schneider.

Schneider estimated that about half of students at the Campus Center are “traditional” community college students, working toward degrees directly after graduating high school, while the remaining half are mostly adult learners and transfer students.

Tuition at GCC is less than $1,850 per semester, for in-state residents enrolled full-time. In comparison, undergraduate tuition at a four-year SUNY college or university costs $5,870 — three times more than the cost of attending GCC. In Schneider’s words, “it’s a bargain.”

Financial aid and work study programs are available to students and staff are on hand to help enrollees with questions.

LEARNING BY DOING — A GCC student takes to the lab, to work on her studies.

In addition to student services, the Campus Center offers also opens itself to the surrounding community. Twice a week, the center hosts a counselor from the New York Department of Labor, who assists community members with employment questions and searches. The center lends meeting and event space to local organizations and businesses, offers community classes, such as the REAP Program — a GED and college preparatory class — and occasionally donates materials to local groups.

There are a few perks to being a student at the Arcade campus. The student lounge hosts social activities for students and staff, including a Valentine’s Day sundae bar, arts and crafts, and cake to celebrate monthly student birthdays.

But it’s not all fun and games.

“You’ve got to pay attention in your classes [if you want to succeed]” said Kennedy, a human services major who plans to graduate next year. But help is always available. Kennedy urges incoming students to take advantage of GCC’s free tutoring services. “And,” she said, “your teachers are more than willing to help.”

Fall classes at GCC at Arcade began on Aug. 26. Those interested in enrolling have plenty of time to enroll, before the spring semester begins in January. For more information on GCC at Arcade, visit the school’s website at, call 585-492-5265, or email


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