Sometimes it’s nice to keep your kids close. I’m sure my parents thought that when I graduated from Wausau East High School in 1981. Luckily, I could not imagine going to college anywhere other than UW Marathon County (UWMC). My older sister attended the university, and I knew wanted to go there too because it would provide a pathway to UW-Madison to pursue my dream of becoming a physician.

Ross Lange

Our four children chose similarly and for many of the same reasons. Like me, they enjoyed the small classes and individual attention offered at the campus, now UW-Stevens Point at Wausau. Rigorous courses, taught by outstanding faculty, prepared them to be successful upon transfer. They were able to maximize their time while attending the Wausau campus. They volunteered in the community and worked jobs as hostesses, restaurant servers, soccer coaches, tutors and CNAs (certified nursing assistants). It may have been more difficult to do those things at a larger school.

Our kids also benefited from the campus’s affordable tuition and chose to live at home during their time at UW-Stevens Point at Wausau, helping us manage the total costs of their undergraduate degrees. After earning their associate degrees, three earned their bachelor’s degrees at UW-Madison; one is now in medical school and two are nurses. Our fourth child is finishing at UW-La Crosse, with plans to go into physical therapy.

Quality, affordability and transferability were the attributes that motivated me and my children to stay close to home and begin our higher education journeys in Wausau.

Quality: College success comes from hard work but also from the quality of the faculty and staff. I experienced that as a student, having benefited from many outstanding professors. In fact, I came down with appendicitis during the third week of my first year and had to spend a week in the hospital. I thought my first semester was a loss and I would be off track for the rest of my college career. Instead, with help from classmates and some very understanding professors, I was able to keep up on my classes and make up missed exams.

Faculty members at UW-Stevens Point at Wausau are no different today. Their credentials, research experience and commitment to teach and support students are hard to find elsewhere; 91 percent have Ph.D.s in their field of study.

Cost: With the added expense of attending UW-Madison and UW-La Crosse to complete bachelor’s degrees, our family saved tens of thousands of dollars by starting at the Wausau campus while earning associate degrees. That is no different today. Tuition and activity fees are $5,196 for the year, half of what it is at UW-Madison. Living at home also leads to room and board savings so students can better manage college debt without sacrificing the outcome.

Transfer: The campus has a strong, historic mission of facilitating transfer to other universities, including UW-Madison. That mission continues now. UW-Stevens Point at Wausau is still in the business of facilitating transfer anywhere in the UW System, with their students succeeding at the highest rates upon transfer. Transitioning to the UW-Stevens Point main campus is seamless.

While I knew I wanted to attend medical school when I began at UWMC, many of my peers did not have a set path when they started. However, they soon found their way with the support of expert advisors and support staff.

In the 1980s, the university did not offer bachelor’s degrees. But UW-Stevens Point at Wausau does. It offers three bachelor’s degrees – business administration, nursing, social work – as well as five specialized AAS degrees that get students into courses in majors to streamline their pathway to bachelor’s degree.

I’m grateful for the important role UW-Stevens Point at Wausau has played in the educational success of our family. I am a proud alum, as are my children. Those same life-changing experiences continue today, benefiting students and our community.

Ross Lange is a family physician at Aspirus.