Wingate hosts state forum on college access and success

Wingate, N.C. - North Carolina's independent colleges and universities addressed issues such as college access and student success at the Independent College Access Network (ICAN) Spring Forum on June 6 at Wingate University. North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities President Hope Williams said major challenges face private higher education on state and national levels.

State funding sources such as the Legislative Tuition Grant could see a 12 percent cut this fall, according to Williams. This change could significantly impact financial aid for North Carolina students attending private institutions.

"North Carolina's private institutions serve as a national leader in establishing a network like ICAN to address ways to promote college access and success" said Williams. In addition, programs such as "Race to the Top" and President Obama's 2020 goal can help make the dream of a college degree come true for more North Carolina citizens, she noted.

Dr. Nicole Farmer Hurd, executive director of the National College Advisors Corps, shared the following statistics at the ICAN forum to illustrate the state of higher education in North Carolina:
• The high school guidance counselor-to-student ratio currently stands at 1-400.
• Sixty-five out of 100 eighth-grade students will graduate from high school; 28 will enter a four-year college and 11 will graduate on time, compared to 13 nationally.
• National trends indicate students under age 25 are among the first generation who will be less educated than their parents.

Two panels of high school and college students shared their insights during the forum on what institutions can do to help them make informed decisions when selecting a college and help them succeed in college. Some of those obstacles currently are being addressed through special programs funded by ICAN at various colleges and universities across the state.

Wingate University received a $20,000 grant from ICAN to expand its summer bridge program for incoming freshmen. The University has also hired five student success coaches to provide one-on-one coaching and support for more than 375 freshmen, many of whom are first-generation college students.

In addition, the Union County Community Foundation provided Wingate with a $15,000 grant to benefit incoming first-year students in the county. The contribution is funding a two-day visit this month to acquaint students with the campus. They will spend time with the president, some of the employees who will help them on their Wingate journey and collect study and success tools for their academic and social success. The funds also provided for three success coaches to be trained in assessing emotional intelligence.

"At Wingate, I have seen hundreds of students from such families come through our gates and go on to lead extraordinary careers and lives," said Dr. Jerry E. McGee, president of Wingate University. "In many cases all it takes is a little support from someone who cares about that student succeeding."

The purpose for developing the Independent College Access Network is to bring all 36 campuses together where best practices of successful programs can be shared and replicated. NCICU receives funding from the US Department of Education’s College Access Challenge Grant and various foundations to provide campus funding assistance to develop or expand college access efforts to North Carolina students and to increase persistence and graduation from high school and college.

Founded in 1896, Wingate University is a comprehensive university with more than 2,300 students on three campuses in Wingate, Matthews and Hendersonville, N.C. The university offers 34 undergraduate majors, 37 minors and career concentrations, numerous pre-professional programs, graduate degrees in business, accounting, education, physician assistant studies and sport administration, and doctorates in pharmacy and education. With a 14 to 1 student/teacher ratio, Wingate students gain the tools and support they need to excel in academics and apply that learning toward an extraordinary career and life. The campus community offers in-class learning, out-of-class experiences, strong mentors, a competitive yet caring environment and rewarding community service opportunities for a complete educational experience.

In addition to a robust intramural athletics program, Wingate student athletes compete in 19 NCAA Division II sports, and the University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past five years.

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Contact: Jennifer Gaskins
704-233-08117 cell: 704-507-9101