College students have always come from a variety of backgrounds, with an assortment of reasons why they chose a particular institution and disparate aspirations and goals for their future.
That’s never been more true than today, as the needs, desires and diversity of students change more rapidly than ever before.
College campuses today – including Newman’s – increasingly reflect changes in our society brought on by economic necessity, advanced technology, and simple demographics. While many students today still arrive on campuses straight out of high school, increasing numbers come from other sources and have needs and goals that differ from traditional students.
Some are adults who have been in the workforce for several years and return to school to complete a degree or get a different degree. Many are transfer students from two-year institutions who took advantage of lower tuition and other costs to acquire their general education credits. Others are veterans and active duty military personnel who wish to further their education through the GI Bill or other benefit programs.
“Nationally, enrollments went up in 2009,” said NU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Michael Austin, Ph.D. “But while private and public institutions showed gains of only 2 or 3 percent, community colleges reported a 20 to 25 percent rise in enrollment. Surveys also show many high school students are considering less prestigious colleges for affordability reasons, or are changing their focus to a two-year college.”
Austin said in order to remain competitive, increase enrollment, and better meet the needs of today’s students, the university has made a concerted effort to attract students from all population groups, by making Newman more accessible and creating more programs students and community members want and need.
These efforts have taken a variety of forms: Articulation agreements with area community colleges to identify courses that meet Newman requirements. Better-targeted financial aid, such as a $3,000 scholarship (disbursed over two years) for any student who earns an associate degree at a community college in Kansas and surrounding states. Reduced tuition programs for those hard-hit by the economic downturn (see story, opposite). And new academic programs such as the interdisciplinary bachelor of arts, where students can transfer credits from any accredited institutions they’ve attended in the past, and then create a plan of study that best meets their needs and interests.
Newman also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, part of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. Under this program, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) matches dollar-for-dollar the contributions Newman makes to help cover an eligible student’s tuition*.
Through these and other initiatives, Newman is striving to meet the needs of today’s students. We looked at three students who represent some of the varied populations on campus today, and what led them to choose Newman University.
Major: Biology and psychology
Hometown: Wichita, Kan.
Schools attended before Newman: Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School, Wichita, three years; Trinity Academy, Wichita, one year
Interests/Activities: Chorale, piano, guitar, reading
Residence: New Hall on campus with roommate
Occupation: Part-time nanny
Plans/Goals after Newman: Earn a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.; work as an OT in Wichita or elsewhere in Kansas
Why she chose Newman: “Part of it was because I liked Dr. Singh (Professor of Biology Surendra Singh, Ph.D.). The Occupational Therapy program was also a good part of it. And, I wanted to stay in Wichita, and the fact that Newman is a Catholic college was important.” Experience at Newman so far: “It’s getting better every day.”
Hometown: Augusta, Kan.
Schools attended before Newman: Advanced standing college classes while in high school from Butler Community College, El Dorado, Kan.; Highland Community College, Highland, Kan.
Interests/Activities: Men’s basketball team, Vantage photographer, hunting, fishing
Residence: Off-campus apartment with basketball teammate
Occupation: Construction in summer months
Plans/Goals after Newman: Work as freelance and/or commercial photographer
Why he chose Newman: “The basketball coach recruited me. I came for a visit and liked what I saw. I liked the size of the school and I talked to some of the people and faculty members and they seemed real nice. Plus I have some friends here and it’s close to my family, so that drew me.”
Experience at Newman so far: “I like the small classes, and the faculty really work with you. Especially with me being in sports and gone from classes, they work with me on making up any missed homework or tests.”
Hometown: Wichita, Kan.
Schools attended before Newman: Goddard High School, Goddard, Kan.; Derby High School, Derby, Kan.
Interests/Activities: Amateur stand-up comedy; writing
Residence: Off-campus apartment
Occupation: Computer software repair, Computer Doctor, Wichita. Formerly sergeant, U.S. Army, infantry; enlisted in high school; served 4-month and 15-month tour of duty in Iraq; honorably discharged March 2009
Plans/Goals after Newman: Find a job in accounting; pursue business career
Why he chose Newman: “I heard it was a great school. In my opinion, a private college is better than a public one. I like smaller classes, and I like that one-on-one with teachers. I can learn things technically from reading a textbook, but I prefer to have the expert actually talking to me. And, when I learned about the Yellow Ribbon Program from talking to people at Newman, I said I definitely want to pursue this.”
Experience at Newman so far: “I really enjoy it. The teachers are great here.”