Deadline near for scholarships for summer college experience at Roberts Weslyan

Scholarship applications are due Friday, March 16, for a summer camp for high school students at Roberts Wesleyan College.

Up to 35 scholarships are available to participate in the sleep-away college experience program at Roberts July 30 to August 3. Applications are online.

A total of 120 students entering sophomore, junior or senior year at high schools in the fall can participate in the summer program. Students can choose one of five academic and career paths at the camp: nursing, pre-med, crime science investigation, social justice and worship.

The John F. Wegman Fund of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, individual donors and the Roberts Board of Trustees are funding the scholarships.

Amy A. Kovach, director of academic summer programs at Roberts Wesleyan College, said, “Students leave these camps with a greater knowledge of college life and concrete experience in a potential field of interest.  We are so excited to offer many scholarships this year. This allows us to make this educational opportunity an option for all students.”

To be eligible for a scholarship covering the $395 cost of the camp, students must:

  • be qualified for the free or reduced lunch program at school
  • attend a school in the Rochester City School District
  • attend a church within the Rochester city limits
  • have qualified as an Early Recognition Black Scholar
  • hold a grade point average of 2.5 or better.

Applicants will be notified by mid-April about whether they won a scholarship. Students who pay for the program themselves have until July 13 to apply.

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Roberts Wesleyan adds incentive to graduate on time

Starting in the fall, Roberts Wesleyan College will guarantee students can complete a bachelor’s degree in four years – an accomplishment that more than half of college students fail to do – or additional courses to finish the degree will be free.

The program is called the Four-Year Promise. Roberts also announced its Roberts Opportunity Grant program, providing up to $8,000 a year to the 20 percent of students who don’t receive academic-based aid.

“We wholeheartedly believe students are worth investing in,” said Deana L. Porterfield, president of Roberts Wesleyan College in North Chili. “The new Four-Year Promise, …combined with the Roberts Opportunity Grant, will help our students save money….  We are committed to providing the resources, education and mentors our students need to start the next chapter of their life.”

The Four-Year Promise, for which entering freshmen will qualify in the fall, will require students to attend counseling sessions each semester with their academic advisers, enroll full-time, maintain good grades and meet requirements of their majors. If they’re not able to complete their major requirements to graduate on time, they’ll be allowed to continue for another semester or two at no cost.

While doing those things alone would seem to be enough to guarantee graduation, a college official said the program really emphasizes that Roberts advises its students well, too.

Students on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College.
Students on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College.

“Not every course is offered every semester, so making sure we do the right sequencing, making sure students are planning and doing the right advising model,” said Kimberley Wiedefeld, vice president for enrollment management at Roberts. “We’re going to get it right by you.”

Part of advising students will be to warn them of the consequences of their actions, she said, such as taking just 12 credits a semester instead of 16, or dropping a class because it’s difficult. “This road map helps students understand the ramifications of those decisions,” Wiedefeld said.

Students may participate in the Four-Year Promise even after changing majors, depending on the majors and the timing of the switch, she said.

Roberts made the announcement just before also extending its application deadline to Dec. 1 for priority admission.

College officials estimate graduating on time from Roberts will save a student up to $300,000 in the long run, between saved tuition, avoidance of additional loans and interest, reduced earnings while spending extra years in college and even retirement savings.

“By being out of the job force for one additional year, the cost to your earnings over time is pretty significant,” Wiedefeld said.

The full price to attend Roberts next school year and live on campus will be $42,000, but Wiedefeld noted that fewer than 2 percent of students pay the full price.

While many colleges across the country offer various “promise” programs – more than 200 by one national survey, it seems most provide financial support as an incentive to begin attending college. Few directly support graduating from college. Eligibility for these other promise programs depends on income, graduating from urban high schools or living in a certain geographic area, such as with New York’s Excelsior scholarships.

Though the Roberts Opportunity Grant does compete somewhat with Excelsior, which provides free state school tuition to New York families earning under a certain amount, it was conceived before the state scholarship program was announced, and it’s not limited to New York residents.

“They don’t have to be from New York State and they don’t have to stay in New York,” Wiedefeld said of Roberts students.

“We know that we need for families to understand the value to choose independent colleges. What does a family get for choosing to come to Roberts? They’ll graduate in four years.  They’re prepared academically in their discipline, and they’re prepared for their career,” she said.

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