Wilson College welcomes male freshmen for the first time

For the first time, the incoming freshman class of Wilson College in Chambersburg, Franklin County, includes male students.

By the looks of it, Wilson College freshman Patrick Fox is doing a pretty good job fitting in on his first day of classes. It’s easier said than done, with Fox being one of just three undergraduate men in his freshmen class at the formerly all women’s college.

“For the most part, they’ve done a pretty good job of converting things to accommodate the male population here,” Fox said.

For these guys, it wasn’t about being pioneers.

“I needed to commute, so I didn’t think I was going to be able to go to college and when I heard that they were thinking about going co-ed, I was very excited,” said freshman Ian Fields of Waynesboro.

“The reasons that we’re hearing from them at this point are the same reasons that women give for coming here and it’s the programs, it’s the academic programs,” said Brian Speer, the college’s vice president for marketing and communications.

Back in January, when the board of trustees voted to go co-ed, there was some vocal opposition to it. But now, these male students say this campus has been nothing but welcoming.

“Just like everyone else, they’re just another student here on campus, ready to get involved and just make the most of the awesome, awesome four years here,” said sophomore Katelyn Wingerd.

Students hope other young men will look into what Wilson has to offer and keep the college going for years to come.

“If you’re interested in getting a really good education, so I would definitely tell people to come here,” Fox said. “I’m actually hoping to see more people come here.”

For now, male undergraduates have to live off-campus, but the college plans to have dorms ready for them by the fall of 2014.

Men have been allowed to enroll in the college’s continuing education degree program since 1982, when that program was started.

Wilson College Makes Change to Co-Ed; Holds College Tours

Nov. 19, 2013

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – As Wilson College transitions into a co-ed school, they’re rebranding their image and hosting various district superintendents and principals for college tours. On Tuesday, Chambersburg Area School District administrators visited the college and learned about the new Wilson College.

“Many times in education we don’t know some of the facilities and opportunities available to our students that are very close at hand,” said Dr. Eric Michael, Wilson College master of education program director.

Wilson college hosted a community outreach day for the Chambersburg Area School District superintendents and principals, showing what the school has to offer and the new changes coming.

“Well, I think when learn what a resource we are on many, many fronts, that’s going to have a trickle down effect in the various school systems,” said Mary Ann Naso, vice president of enrollment at Wilson College.

School officials hope partnering with Wilson College could encourage more students to pursue a higher education

“So you have a range of higher education opportunities, but yet you don’t have a high populous graduating from high school that doesn’t have a high going to college ratio and we believe that needs to be a lot higher because in tomorrow’s world students are going to need to have more than a high school education, much more,” said Dr. Joe Padask, Chambersburg Area School District superintendent.

So far, admission officials say they’ve already surpassed their applications record with 14-15 percent of them being male.

“With the addition of going co-ed, we hope to grow the college, but grow the community,” said Dr. Michael.

Wilson college officials say they want to continue these partnerships with the various school systems, not just exposing high school students to the campus but students K-12.

Wilson college is also hosting an open house for high school students this weekend. For more information, head to their website: http://www.wilson.edu/visit/index.aspx

Wilson College offers chance to limit student debt

Posted: Oct 18, 2013 4:30 PM EDT
By Steven Fisher – email

Wilson College is offering students something unique: a chance to lower their debt by getting good grades.

The college will pay up to $10,000 toward a student’s federal Stafford Loan debt if the student earns a certain GPA.

“It is definitely a win-win because it gives us the opportunity to really market ourselves to a broader population of students, and it gives them a chance to come here and really make this an affordable experience,” Wilson College President Barbara Mystick said.

The debt buyback program will be available to students entering in fall 2014. To qualify, they must be a first-time college student and earn a diploma in four years or less of continuous, full-time enrollment at Wilson College.

Students who achieve a GPA of 3.9 or higher would see their student loan debt reduced by $10,000, while a GPA of 3.7 to 3.89 would lower the loan by $7,500 and a GPA of 3.5 to 3.69 would cut the cost of the college education by $5,000.

“I think it’s a great way to help us push further for our academics and help us keep our GPA up, because sometimes we have down years,” student Morgan Lindsay said. “It’s also great to have support with the loans that you have because it’s hard to pay them back right after college.”

In addition to creating the debt buyback plan, Wilson’s trustees voted to reduce tuition by $5,000, or 17 percent, to $23,745 in the 2014-15 academic year.

Got Debt? We’ll Buy! How One School Plans To Buy Back Its Students’ Debt

Oct. 18, 2013
By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff

Concerns about the growing cost of higher education are taking a front seat in many students’ decisions about where to attend college. But what if there was a way for schools to address those increasing costs, encourage timely degree completion, and develop a strong sense of community among their students?

That’s the idea behind Pennsylvania’s Wilson College’s new debt buyback program, which offers prospective students a chance to reduce their Federal Direct Loan debt by up to $10,000.

Wilson is a private, four-year liberal arts college with a fall 2013 enrollment of 662 students, including a high number of first-generation students and Pell Grant recipients. Students at Wilson College graduate with student loan debt that is close to the national average of between $20,000 and $25,000, but school officials realized that more needed to be done to educate students about borrowing, particularly the importance of not over-borrowing.

“We know our students are going to need to borrow and take on debt and that’s a worthy investment in themselves, but we want them to borrow at a reasonable level,” Wilson College President Barbara Mistick said.

The student debt buyback program was approved in January 2012 by the college’s Board of Trustees and will be available to students entering in fall 2014, with the first eligible students graduating in 2018. The program is designed to encourage students to think more about how much and what kinds of loans they are borrowing to pay for college tuition, Mistick said.

The program is restricted to Direct Loans that relate to enrollment at Wilson College and students must meet the following criteria to qualify:
Pledge to borrow only what is necessary to meet educational expenses;
Participate in financial literacy programs, which are offered to all students in their freshman and senior years;
Be first-time college students who earn a diploma in four years or less of continuous, full-time enrollment at Wilson; and
Demonstrate active involvement and participation in activities and community services that would benefit the Wilson College community (i.e. student government, tutoring other students, campus sustainability initiatives, community organizations).

A student’s grade point average (GPA) out of a possible 4.0 will also determine his or her buyback amount:
$5,000 for those with a GPA of 3.5 to 3.69;
$7,500 for those with a GPA of 3.7 to 3.89; and
$10,000 for those with a GPA of 3.9 of higher.

Mistick said the program was deliberately designed to encourage students to take full advantage of what college life has to offer, academically, socially, and as alumni of the school. “I think what’s really interesting is that students today do want to feel part of a community, so we wanted to make sure we had a community element,” she said.

Wilson officials estimate that the program will cost up to $100,000 a year, depending on variables, which Misick said was a “reasonable” amount given the scope of the program and size of enrollment at Wilson. They expect the program to be funded through additional revenue generated by increased enrollments and student retention of those in the program.

“It’s a high investment in our students and an extension of how we invest in our students every day,” Mistick said, adding, “It really is about reaching back to one of the hallmarks that we do at small liberal arts colleges, which is to have really personal experiences with our students.”

In addition to the buyback program, the Board of Trustees last year voted to reduce the school’s tuition by 17 percent, or $5,000, to $23,745 for the 2014-15 academic year, but “it’s not just about resetting the tuition, it’s figuring how to work with the debt,” Mistick said. “I think the questions of affordability is not going away anytime soon and every institution is going to need to address that.”

Wilson College to Help Students Pay Off Loan Debts

Oct. 16, 2013
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Wilson College is the first college in the nation to introduce a student loan buyback program based on academic merit.

Under this new program, which will kick off in 2014, the college will pay off part of a student’s Federal Stafford Loan debt if they get good grades.

Officials at Wilson College say this program is part of an effort to increase student enrollment and retention by making higher education more affordable. They say the number one reason students drop out at the college is because of affordability.

It is a struggle senior Katy Sells is all too familiar with. She has taken out three student loans, and says she would have benefited from the buyback plan.

“It’s a really good idea,” said Sells. “Students, they fear getting out of college because they know that as soon as they get out they’re going to have debt whether they have a job or not. So to me I think it’s also going to push students to have better grades.”

For full-time students enrolling next year, the buyback program will be within their reach as long as they can earn a degree in four straight years. They must also be first-time college students to qualify. Award amounts differ based on the student’s GPA:
3.5 to 3.69 GPA                $5,000
3.7 to 3.89 GPA                $7,500
3.9 or higher GPA             $10,000

But how will the college afford this program?

“We’ve started some new programs particularly in the health sciences, and as we bring in more students, that growth will help us afford that reduction in tuition and the loan buyback program,” said Wilson College President Barbara Mistick.

The college says the buyback program goes hand in hand with their decisions to go fully co-ed and decrease tuition by 17 percent next year.

“Our students couldn’t be more excited about the prospects ahead,” said Mistick. “And I’m excited too. I think this is the right time for Wilson to make these changes.”

Students who are part of the loan buyback program are also required to participate in activities and community services that benefit the Wilson College Community.