So you want to become a Terrier … or at least consider Wofford among your top college options. That means you’ve already shown great judgment, and Wofford very well could be a fit for you. The following step-by-step guide will lead you down the old gold and black path, but if you still have questions at the end, the college’s Office of Admission is available and eager to share more about how to become a Terrier.
Step 1: Lay a good foundation
Wofford is a Phi Beta Kappa college with a reputation for rigorous academics. That means to be a Terrier, you’ll need to work hard in high school. Take challenging courses and learn to study. Grades, however, are only one component. According to Brand Stille ’86, vice president for enrollment, “A lot of people assume that colleges evaluate applicants by lining prospective students up in order of academic credentials, drawing a line and saying those above the line are admitted and those below are not. That’s not completely accurate, especially not at Wofford. Colleges have goals for academic quality, diversity, athletics participation and to enhance programs such as theatre or art or music.” Wofford is interested in students who have demonstrated leadership, civic engagement and interests outside of the academic curriculum. Basically, being your best self is a good start.
Step 2: Explore different colleges
Visiting different college campuses can be a lot of fun for you and your family and friends, but before you do that — usually starting spring of your sophomore year or fall of your junior year — visit college search websites. For example,
Collegeboard.org, cappex.com, collegeconfidential.com and niche.com allow students to create profiles and refine their search using a variety of categories, from location to cost to academic interests. “The process has changed so much from parent to student,” says Stille. “The average parent today went to college pre-internet and pre-email. Now students have lots of resources. The technology encourages prospective students to think more broadly about their college experience and what they envision it to be.” Be aware, however, that college search sites are more interested in selling search information than making sure students find their perfect college match. College search sites are a good place to start, but never substitutes for a visit to campus.
Step 3: Apply to Wofford
After you’ve visited during your junior year — maybe you’ve attended one of Wofford’s fall or spring hospitality days or you scheduled a personal visit — start preparing your application. Wofford uses the Common Application, which means you may submit this same application when applying to other Common App colleges or universities, saving you time and money. You will need an essay (something that shows your personality and fills the gaps not covered by the application), letters of recommendation (from people eager to share how awesome you are), your high school transcript and test scores (if you choose to submit them). Since Wofford is test-optional, you decide whether to submit your scores. Unsure? A good rule of thumb is to see where you fall in a college’s posted range. For example, if you fall in Wofford’s SAT Mid 50% range or higher, by all means submit. The bottom line, according to Stille: “Wofford wants students who will be successful and graduate in four years.” Usually academic success and extracurricular participation in high school determine that more than test scores.
Applying to college is one thing, paying for college is another. “I always recommend that students not eliminate any college based on sticker price,” says Stille. “Ninety percent of our students pay less than our advertised cost.” Stille encourages parents to invite their students into the conversation about family finances. Consider these FAQs as a basis for a candid conversation about resources and expectations.
How much should I expect to pay?
Measuring the value of a college education includes more than the cost of tuition. Return on investment, graduate success rates and the time it takes to earn your degree are important considerations as well. At Wofford the average financial aid package exceeds $34,000. That number is determined by a variety of factors, including family circumstances, high school transcripts, test scores and residency. On the college’s admission webpage is a Net Price Calculator designed to give families a first glimpse at what college eventually may cost. Every college or university is required by the federal government to offer this service. Carolyn Sparks, director of financial aid, reminds families to consider tuition increases over four years when making a decision. Knowing what to expect helps with planning.
Do I have to complete the FAFSA?
“The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, opens every opportunity for federal, state and institutional financial aid, including student employment and loans,” says Sparks. “It’s not a requirement, but it is the starting point to ensure that students get the best financial aid package available.” The FAFSA is available in October using the previous year’s income tax returns, and it usually takes less than an hour to complete.
How do I know I’m getting the best financial aid package available?
At Wofford the offices of Financial Aid and Admission work closely to plan financial aid packages for prospective students. “When an aid package gets to a student, we believe that we have given our best offer based on the admission application and FAFSA,” says Sparks, who has worked in the field for 27 years. “Some people are shocked by the sticker price of college, but once aid shakes out, Wofford is surprisingly competitive.”
How does Wofford determine merit-based scholarships?
“Wofford uses a student’s admission application to determine scholarships; there is no separate application for scholarship aid,” says Sparks. “All students who are accepted to Wofford are considered.” In addition, high school guidance counselors also are invited to nominate rising seniors to participate in the Wofford Scholars Competition. To qualify, students must rank in the top 10 percent of their class and have a combined score of 1,300 on the PSAT or SAT or a 28 on the ACT or PLAN. Although Wofford is test-optional, test scores are required for students competing for the college’s top scholarships, which range from $40,000 to $250,000 over a four-year period. Wofford does offer a few interest-specific scholarships that may require a separate application. Visit wofford.edu/financialaid to view the complete list of scholarships.
How does student employment work?
According to Sparks, federal or institutional work study or on-campus paid internships provide wages that are deposited directly into a student’s banking account. Most students use the wages as a way to cover non-tuition expenses such as books, travel, recreation and clothing. “We encourage only 10 hours a week so students can spend ample time focusing on their studies,” says Sparks.
What if a student qualifies for a loan?
“Slightly more than half of Wofford students borrow to meet the cost of college,” says Sparks. “Every student who applies for financial aid qualifies for a federal loan, but students have the option to accept.” Accepting or refusing the loan is as simple as an email to the college’s Office of Financial Aid. According to Sparks, Wofford students borrow less that the national average and Wofford graduates have extremely low loan-default rates; this is because Wofford graduates students in four years, and Wofford students enjoy positive career outcomes after graduation.
What happens when family circumstances change?
The FAFSA is based on gross income and a mathematical formula that does not take into account extenuating circumstances. That’s why the college has a committee that considers special conditions, for example, in the case of loss of income, divorce or death. The college also offers emergency scholarships for students facing financial difficulties.
How can Wofford financial aid counselors help?
“In Financial Aid we’re dealing with children and money, so we try to be sensitive,” says Sparks. “I don’t always get to say yes, but I do try to stay focused on the people part of this very fulfilling and rewarding career.” Sparks encourages families to ask questions. The staff in Financial Aid is always happy to help.
NAVIGATING THE ATHLETICS RECRUITING PROCESS
Students planning to go through the NCAA recruiting process may have a different timeline for considering colleges and making a college decision. According to Elizabeth Wilkes Rabb ’01, associate athletics director for compliance, visiting ncaa.org/student-athletes/recruiting is a good first step. The site defines recruiting terms, provides a calendar and discusses official visits and eligibility. Much of this differs from sport to sport. Rabb also shares some advice for navigating the NCAA recruiting process.
For prospective student-athletes:
If you want to be a member of an NCAA athletics team in college, it’s important to realize the commitment required. At Wofford you will be a true student-athlete and will need to devote significant time to both academics and athletics; practice balancing your time between both while you’re still in high school. When you’re in the 10th grade, register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at eligibilitycenter.org. In many cases, until you begin the 11th grade, college coaches cannot return your call. That doesn’t mean you can’t introduce yourself in a brief email and through a one- or two-page resume. Of course, send recent athletics accomplishments, but showing academic performance with standardized test scores and GPA is also important. Wofford coaches are looking for recruits who will succeed in the classroom and on the playing field, court or course, so it’s important to show that you already are committed to the scholar-athlete model. Include references with contact information as well.
For parents or family members of prospective student-athletes:
Encourage your student to have fun and enjoy playing the game at whatever level. Young people learn a lot from athletics participation — time management, responsibility, teamwork, leadership, how to accept criticism, resilience and work ethic. Those characteristics transfer far beyond high school or college athletics. If you’re the parent or guardian of an elite athlete highly sought after by multiple colleges and universities, your job is to help them weigh their options. Division I, Division II and Division III competition all have different rules and different levels of commitment and funding. Again, ncaa.org is your best resource for comparative information.
For alumni or fans:
After years of deregulation, the NCAA is in a time of reregulation. A simple rule of thumb is “ask before you act.” Contact the Compliance Office at Wofford if you have a question. The NCAA requires Wofford to show institutional control, which means offering opportunities to educate student-athletes and coaches on academics, well-being and fairness and self-reporting when someone inadvertently violates an NCAA rule. Wofford coaches help the college build on its national reputation, increase diversity and expand the geographic distribution of the student body. Alumni and fans can best help them by becoming members of the Terrier Club and providing critical scholarship support.
NOW THAT YOU’RE A TERRIER
Once you become a Terrier, student success is built into virtually every aspect of the Wofford experience. For four years, the college will ensure that people and programs are in place to support, guide and offer opportunities for growth. For example:
- Student success teams — made up of academic advisors, staff guides, student peer leaders and personal librarians — give students their first on-campus systems of support.
- Wofford faculty, staff, coaches and network of alumni and friends are available to mentor, guide, advise, encourage, challenge and open doors for opportunity.
- Greek life and student-led clubs and organizations provide places for students to learn leadership and organizational skills while exploring cocurricular interests and making lifelong friends.
- Wofford is a microcosm of the larger world with an infrastructure of community support — Campus Safety, Information Technology, the Sandor Teszler Library, a Wellness Center, Fitness Center and Recreational Facilities, Post Office, Maintenance Department and Food Services.
- The Office of International Programs supports international students and students studying abroad.
- The Center for Community-Based Learning offers opportunities for students to engage civically in mutually beneficial ways with local community partners.
- The Space in the Mungo Center supports students with professional development, networking and internship assistance as well as training in the art of entrepreneurial thinking.
- Participation in pre-professional programs such as ROTC, pre-med or pre-law creates opportunities for students to prepare for and explore careers.
- Donors to The Wofford Fund and Terrier Club provide resources that make possible all programs and support networks.
By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89