As COVID-19 cases climb in Wisconsin and in our area, growing numbers of universities are announcing plans to go all-online with their instruction this fall. Less visibly, universities that plan to start in-person are also making plans to go all-online if coronavirus makes it impossible to stay open after the semester starts. These are not our first choices as we plan the academic year, but we believe having several options is the most responsible route.

Parents and students alike are concerned. Some are apprehensive for safety reasons as well as their student’s university experience. Parents ask if their student will pay the full university tuition and fees without the benefit of the on-campus experience.

Some of these concerns were addressed in the April 9 Wausau Pilot & Review column by retired Marathon County administrator Brad Karger’s, “Students, Need a Plan B?” He recommended UW-Stevens Point at Wausau as a Plan B for graduating high school students. Karger’s point wasn’t specific to COVID-19, but three months later, it seems prescient. We’re here for these parents and their students this fall, whether we are their plan A, B or beyond.

Parents know UW-Stevens Point Wausau has a strong reputation for rigor. They know – and Brad’s column reminded them – we now offer bachelor’s degrees in business administration, nursing and social work, all in Wausau. Our two-year associate of arts and sciences (AAS) degree continues to meet all general education requirements across the UW System; so students can transfer with ease with their AAS. What they may not know is one key benefit: Our courses more often transfer as named, numbered equivalencies, ensuring they are accepted by the student’s new university.

During these uncertain times, inquiring parents and students also may consider our campus for two other reasons:

  1. Affordability – Tuition and segregated fees are less than $2,500 for the semester at UW-Stevens Point at Wausau ($5,000 for the year).
  2. Trust – Parents know they can trust UW-Stevens Point at Wausau to do our best to keep students safe while providing a high-quality education. We can’t control the world around us, but we are ready to serve students safely this fall.

For fall, about half of our courses will either be entirely face-to-face or, because of physical distancing requirements and space limitations, a combination of face-to-face and online instruction. Those class sizes will be small, with as few as six students but no more than 32 students. The remaining courses will be all-online. This summer, our instructors have been preparing their online courses. These are no longer the text-driven online courses of the past. Rather, they are built on live video interaction with the instructor to enrich the student experience and ensure engagement.

We are a higher education gem right here in our community. UW-Stevens Point at Wausau offers incredible quality with courses taught by experienced faculty with the highest credentials in their fields, which is why our courses transfer so well.

Students (and parents), don’t let the coronavirus pandemic derail your dreams. Those of us who lived through the Great Recession a dozen years ago know that hard times can last, sometimes longer than we thought they would. But life will go on. There are steps you can take to keep moving your dreams forward. Let us help you to move forward.

Ann Herda-Rapp is campus executive at UW-Stevens Point at Wausau.