Commentary: Quality Education at a Wise Cost

Commentary: Quality Education at a Wise Cost

Winter break is good time for our high school seniors to focus on college. My message to them as a member of the General Assembly is that there are a number of wonderful opportunities among our public institutions here in Virginia. It’s important to many of our constituents to find that balance between a high-quality and affordable education. You might want to consider The University of Virginia at Wise (UVA-Wise). It is a top ranked college with financial aid programs that keep students out of crippling debt. The college has the third lowest tuition and fees of the 15 public four-year institutions in Virginia. In fact, more than 80 percent of the students receive financial aid through scholarships made possible by private donors.

The college is highly ranked in a variety of programs from the liberal arts to software engineering to nursing. UVA-Wise is ranked first in the nation for public liberal arts colleges that graduate students with the least amount of debt and has been in the top 20 for over five years. UVA-Wise also offers Virginia’s only four-year program for software engineering, accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABATE). The graduates have 100 percent job placement.

A related computer science program, along with the software engineering program, concentrates more on cyber security education to meet increased demands in the private sector. There are thousands of job opportunities in cyber security in Virginia that cannot be filled for lack of an educated workforce. Also, the nursing program has an excellent pass rate on state board exams. A recent class had a 100 percent passing rate, a rare feat for nursing programs across the nation. The nursing program is nationally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

In addition to its accredited and successful programs and excellent financial aid, the college supports undergraduate research. These research programs link undergraduate students with faculty across curriculum. Funded with private money, undergraduate research programs give students real world experience and an advantage in graduate school as well.

UVA-Wise also supports international study programs with an affordable price tag. Multiple opportunities to study abroad include short-term, faculty-led trips (1-2 weeks) or a semester or year abroad at one of the College’s international partners in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, England, Spain, or Chile. Faculty-led, short-term trips this past year were to Austria, Chile, Ireland, and England. Private donor scholarships are available for many of the study abroad trips making it possible for undergraduate students to experience and learn about another culture, to gain an international perspective, and to develop confidence in their own abilities.

Overall, UVA-Wise is an excellent college option for many students across the commonwealth, and especially for our young people in Northern Virginia who are looking for a quality education at a reasonable price. Out of the 95 counties in the commonwealth, the college has students from all but five counties demonstrating how the college is doing its part to serve the Commonwealth by offering a quality education at a Wise cost.