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The Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC) Experiential Learning Program provides applied learning courses for students, supports quality experiential learning course development, and assists employers with meeting their respective need(s) for workforce development. Participating students have the opportunity to improve post-graduate job prospects and to learn valuable job-search skills including how to write and effective resume and prepare for a job interview. Successful students can also help to mitigate employers’ concerns about hiring individuals with little or no experience. VHCC students have the option to participate in experiential learning courses that include: On-Site Training, Cooperative Education (Co-op), Externships, and Service Learning. This participation assists students to gain practical experience and apply what they learn to real-world problems.

The main objective of any Experiential Learning Program is to better prepare students for the workforce by providing them with a skill set that makes them increasingly more marketable to potential employers. Although that is the primary goal, there are many other benefits to participating in an Experiential Learning Program. Below you will find a list of the benefits afforded through Experiential Learning:

  • Explore career interests and clarify future career goals.
  • Network with professionals in your field and identify potential mentors.
  • Obtain career-related experience.
  • Improve your post-graduation job prospects.
  • Incorporate classroom theories with applied learning experiences.
  • Improve essential job search skills like professional resume writing and interviewing techniques.
  • Earn recognition for your experience through course credit or transcript notation (non-credit courses).
  • Develop professional references for your future career.
  • Increase self-confidence and knowledge of your interests, abilities, and values.
  • Gain experience through a program sanctioned by Virginia Highlands Community College and supported on your behalf regarding safety, ethical practice and quality assurance issues.

To gain the maximum benefits from a work experience, students are encouraged to learn as much about their position and employer as possible. The overall work experience should help reinforce the student’s career choice and provide motivation to complete his/her program of study. Students who complete a successful work experience enhance their marketability for the workforce. Work-based learning combined with classroom theory serves to enhance the development and professional preparation of Experiential Learning students.


To enhance academic study and student competency through the development of a work-based learning programs that promotes regional economic vitality, while building ongoing partnerships with employers and local community partners through curriculum-specific applied learning experiences for VHCC students.


  1. To ensure that students have access to and include experiential learning courses in their academic programs to apply course content and gain the relevant academic, personal and professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to become work-ready and productive members of society upon completion of their chosen course of study.
  2. To provide on-going professional development and support for department faculty to create and instruct quality experiential learning courses.
  3. Build strong partnerships with employers and community partners to produce strong learning environments for students while meeting workforce development needs.


The VHCC Experiential Learning Program facilitates On-Site Training, Cooperative Education, and Externship courses, while supporting faculty in the creation and development of experiential learning and service learning opportunities. The Experiential Learning Program provides best practices workshops, promotes applied learning to students and maintains statistics on applied learning across campus. All of these options require the development and maintenance of relationships with industrial and community partners.


Experiential Learning is a partnership between students, faculty, and the community which promotes development of student professional, personal and academic skills in an applied learning environment. There are many ways to learn through experience.

Through the Experiential Learning Program, four modalities are available: