Wingate Faces

Jessica Harris Colquitt

Bulldog Pride
Although I’m talking about Bulldogs, this column is not about the University of Georgia Bulldogs. I’m sure many of you, including my husband, may think there’s only one real set of Bulldogs, and all the rest are just imitators, but I beg to differ.

Of course, I’m a UGA Bulldogs fan, even if I am a transplant. I didn’t really have much of a choice, living in the Athens area and marrying into a family of huge Dawgs fans, but I truly enjoy rooting for the Bulldogs in whatever capacity.

However, the truth is, I was not only a Bulldog fan, but also an actual Bulldog, before I ever met Brandon or moved to Georgia. I am a proud graduate of Wingate University in North Carolina, and yes, we too are the Bulldogs.

Because of this, I’ve always joked with Brandon that I’m a “real” Bulldog, and he’s just a Bulldog fan. He does not agree with this, of course, but I know the truth.

Recently, I received an email from my alma mater that made me even prouder to be a Bulldog. Wingate was listed as the eighth Best Value university in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 Best Colleges rankings amongst the nation’s schools.

U.S. News considers a school’s academic quality combined with the 2010-2011 net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid. According to the report, 78.9% of Wingate’s students receive need-based grants with a 50% average discount from the total cost.

According to the U.S. News website, “the higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal. Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included because U.S. News considers the most significant values to be among colleges that are above average academically.”

Wingate ranked 39th in the 2012 edition of Best Colleges, Regional Universities (South). I’m assuming that is out of 100, and if that is the case, 39th ain’t too shabby, in my opinion.

The college that came in first as the Best Value in the South was Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. Other North Carolina universities ranked on the Best Value list include Appalachian State University at #12 and Elon University at #14.

The South region category includes private and public universities that offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master’s and doctoral programs. U.S. News examines colleges by mission and region and compares schools on factors such as peer assessment, retention and graduation of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and alumni giving.

In response to the news of the Best Value ranking, long-time Wingate President Dr. Jerry McGee said, “Wingate University welcomed the largest student body to our institution this fall with more than 2,529 students enrolled in our graduate and undergraduate programs. They will be taught by the best-credentialed faculty we have ever assembled. These are very good days for our institution.”

Founded in 1896, Wingate has three campuses in Wingate, Matthews, and Hendersonville, NC. 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.

There is an average student/teacher ratio of 14 to 1 in Wingate’s classes. In addition to academics, 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.

Of course I’m biased, but I agree whole-heartedly with Wingate’s Best Value ranking. I could not have asked for a better education in the four years I spent on campus, especially at a school only 30 minutes from my home.

I never had a class with more than 30 students, all of my professors knew who I was and developed relationships with me during their classes, and the campus was and is beautiful but not so expansive that you can’t walk everywhere you need to go. I spent 10 days in Italy my junior year at a very minimal cost on one of the school’s extremely popular “W’International” trips, and I made friendships that are still going strong today.

As a small, private university, “The ‘Gate” was certainly not cheap, however, and of course tuition increases every year, as it does at every school. Thankfully, though, I was one of the many students that received numerous scholarships and grants, and it is solely because of those opportunities that I was able to attend and receive such a top-notch education.

I could never say enough good things about my time at Wingate. I only hope that my future children will have the opportunity to experience the life-changing effects that a truly great university can have on them, whether it’s here in Georgia, in North Carolina, or wherever they decide is right for them. Go Dawgs!