BELOIT—Beloit College will offer up to two semesters tuition-free for students post-graduation to help them recoup valuable experiences lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beloit College will offer a ninth and tenth tuition-free semester to students who enroll full-time during the 2020-21 school year.
With most students completing their degree requirements in four years, or eight semesters, the ninth and tenth semester will give them the opportunity to take a class outside of their major or participate in an activity which may have been cancelled during the pandemic.
“This program is designed to be the icing on the cake,” said Beloit College Director of Enrollment Operations Kate Virgo. “If there is anything on your Beloit bucket list when you finish your eighth semester, we want to help you achieve that.”
The program would apply to anybody who is currently enrolled as a full-time student, and would take effect as early as spring when students had completed their eighth semester. Students may take either an additional semester, which may be either in the fall or the spring, or an entire academic year. The semester or year needs to start in the academic year immediately following the students’ eighth semester.
Although the cost of tuition for classes or equivalent internships would be covered, students would be responsible to pay for for their own room and board. The program would be paid for through the college’s general operating budget.
The inspiration for the program comes from a current program called Honors Term when graduates do semester-long research programs following graduation.
It’s designed for those students who want an additional research or internship opportunity prior to graduate school or the workforce.
“This is for them to add to their resume a little bit more and fulfill their personal accomplishments,” Virgo said.
Under the new program students would take three classes tuition free, or a combination of two classes and an internship or research program to equal full-time attendance.
Virgo said many students feel a sense of loss resulting from the cancelled sports season, plays or other clubs and activities. This would help students have some of those experiences they may have lost out on during COVID-19.
Virgo said there are some people advocating students take time off at this time. However, it’s more difficult to get jobs, and there are less travel options.
“This gives people options and is designed to be a positive gesture during a tough time,” Virgo said.
The initiative expands the Beloit Promise, the component of the Action Plan that recognizes the economic impact the pandemic has had on many families. The Promise offers a variety of financial support programs designed to ensure students are able to continue their education uninterrupted.
The Beloit Action Plan, launched in April, introduced student-centered flexibility throughout the college in response to COVID-19. The plan includes Mods, which divide the semester into halves. Students will take two courses in each Mod, which will minimize disruption should a change between in-person and remote learning occur mid-semester.
Other aspects of the plan include the Midwest Flagship Match, in which Beloit guarantees that tuition will be the same or less than the flagship state school for students from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin; the Career Channels Program that ensures students receive real-world experience during college; and an Advanced Mentoring Program, which provides a faculty advisor to students and a cohort-based mentoring program that continues through the first two years.
Beloit College is one of five Wisconsin colleges to make the Princeton Review’s 2021 ‘Best’ list. Other colleges included Lawrence University in Appleton; University of Wisconsin Madison; Marquette University and Ripon College.