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Wilson College enrollment up 18 percent

September 24, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Wilson College has experienced an 18 percent increase in enrollment thanks to 134 new students for the fall semester.

The number of new students is the most since 1973, when 137 new students enrolled at Wilson, according to a news release. College officials cited the addition of a master's degree and economic changes as potential reasons for a high number of first-year and transfer students.

"Colleges typically see increases in enrollment during difficult economic times, as people decide that furthering their education will make them more attractive in the job market," Wilson Vice President for Enrollment Mary Ann Naso said.

The college on U.S. 11 in Chambersburg enrolled 119 new students in the fall of 2008.

One of this year's new students is Melissa Murphy, who hails from upstate New York. She learned about the college's "Women with Children" program after talking to a guidance counselor.

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"There are maybe six programs in the country where my daughter can live with me in the dorms," said Murphy, whose daughter, Mya, is 3.

Murphy, 34, received an associate degree in communications from a community college and looked at several schools for her bachelor's degree. One possibility was Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

"I wasn't ready to be at such a big school," Murphy said, saying she likes the class sizes at Wilson.

Also, even Wilson College administrators stop Murphy in the halls to ask how she and Mya are doing.

"We feel like we're at home, even though we've only been here six weeks," Murphy said.

Leslie Hoover, 18, learned about Wilson College through her Lancaster County, Pa., high school and her horseback riding instructor. Her campus tour cemented her college choice.

"When I came to visit, I fell in love with the place," Hoover said.

Hoover, an accounting major, said she's impressed that students at the predominantly women's college get along so well. She hasn't encountered cliques like she anticipated.

"I think I know everybody in the freshman class already," Hoover said.

Wilson officials said the most significant enrollment increase was in the adult degree programs, which has 479 students compared to 384 a year ago. The programs cater to men and women age 24 and older, although only women are allowed to live on campus.

"It is notable that the male population took a big jump, to a total of 129, when the average male enrollment for the three previous years was just 74 students," Naso said.

Two federal programs for displaced workers contributed to the increases in the adult degree programs, she said.

Forty-nine new students joined the Teacher Intern Program, which allows people with bachelor's degrees to become certified to teach in Pennsylvania.

"What we're seeing is a lot of potential students coming to us, having lost their jobs and being concerned about the future of their positions," said Dr. Walton Jones, director of the program.

He said teaching positions offer more stability and security than many other jobs.

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