The West Liberty University Black and Gold Opportunity Plan offers students access, affordability and success. It is especially designed to assist underserved students — which includes first generation college students, older students, working adults, veterans and transfer students — in earning a degree.

Dean Thomas Michaud, President Robin C. Capehart and Dean of Students Scott Cook are shown at the press conference announcing the Black and Gold Opportunity Plan.

Dean of Professional Studies Thomas Michaud, President Robin C. Capehart and Dean of Enrollment and Student Services Scott Cook are shown at the press conference announcing the Black and Gold Opportunity Plan.

“Underserved students often encounter problems accessing higher education opportunities. West Liberty University wants to give these students a way to achieve the goal of a college degree and assure them success,” said President Robin C. Capehart.

The Plan, which was formally unveiled at a April 21, 2014 press conference at the Highlands Center campus, includes several components designed to assist underserved students with access and ultimately success in college.

“For more than 175 years West Liberty University has been providing a little something extra. We are here to help adult students, veterans, transfer students and other traditional students who may feel that a college degree is out of reach,” he added.

West Liberty University’s admissions department will provide guidance through what can be an overwhelming process to these students and offer personal help to see that their questions are answered. Veterans will find it easier to work through the admissions process with the dedicated help of Cheryl Mielke, WLU Veterans GI Bill Coordinator who can be reached at 304.336.8129.

“We look forward to helping and explaining about the many programs available to veterans, adult learners, transfer students and other underserved prospective students who need a boost to get on the right path,” said Dean of Enrollment and Student Services Scott Cook.

“These programs will focus on assisting underserved students in receiving information about navigating the college admissions process and in preparing for their time in a college classroom,” Cook added. “The Black and Gold Opportunity Plan is focused on developing student aptitude for success.”

For example, the Hilltopper Academy is a summer residential program that offers incoming freshmen a bridge to college readiness. Traditional students enrolled in the academy, attend this successful program that includes intense instruction in math and writing for college that increase their likelihood for academic achievement. Hilltopper Academy students also earn three credit hours.

Because there are many factors that contribute to lower educational aspirations, achievement and attainment, the Plan includes a variety of options depending on a student’s circumstances.

Underserved students are especially susceptible to factors such as the rising price of college, stagnating incomes and diminished asset values that exacerbate the problem of affordability, according to Cook.

“Many underserved students are averse to assuming debt. However, the perception of college affordability is often worse that the actual reality due to the lack of information regarding the availability of financial assistance. We are here to help,” he said.

In addressing this critical issue, West Liberty University prides itself on the personal attention provided its students, which is evidenced by higher graduation and retention rates.

“I’d like to reaffirm West Liberty University’s commitment to those underserved students who need extra help and to note that, over time, this plan will continue to evolve and provide new programs and new initiatives that support our ability to provide our students with the opportunity for a high quality education,” Capehart concluded.

West Liberty University is a forward-looking, four-year public university steeped in a rich heritage as West Virginia’s oldest institution of higher education. Led by President Robin C. Capehart, West Liberty is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

For more information, please call 1.866.WESTLIB. Or for specific information on the Black and Gold Opportunity Plan, visit westliberty.edu/opportunity.