Wiley College, originally known as Wiley University, opened its doors in 1873. It was the first college for black students west of the great Mississippi River. Against the tremendous odds of racism, Jim Crow laws and a community which did not want black people to receive a college degree, Wiley College persevered and overcame all obstacles and is a testament and symbol of civil rights activism and educational excellence today.
The college is the namesake of Bishop Isaac Wiley. He was a teacher, doctor, and preacher who ministered and practiced in Marshall, Texas. And, like the college, Mr. Wiley worked under the debilitating and perilous aura of the Jim Crow south but still managed to be successful and overcame its injustices.
Today, Wiley College is an accredited school with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools with the authority to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Wiley College offers many associate and B.A. degrees in various areas such as the arts and sciences, business and technology, education, general studies and special studies.
Wiley College offers 19 majors in the aforementioned disciplines as well as in social studies and the Humanities. There is also an adult learning program in criminal justice and organizational management. Wiley College holds membership with many prestigious groups like the United Negro College Fund, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Association of Colleges and Schools of the United Methodists Church, just to name a few. As of 2009, Wiley College had a 70 member staff with a student body that numbered slightly more than 1200 students. These numbers make for a small class size with a student to teacher ratio of 20:1.
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In order to be admitted into Wiley College, prospective students must apply by summer’s end, sometime in late August or early September. The college also allows open enrollment at the beginning of each semester. There is a small application fee and ACT and SAT scores, transcripts, FAFSA data, etc. are required to begin the admissions process.
High school seniors are encouraged to apply during their senior year and they must have at least 16 Carnegie units or credits upon graduating from high school. Carnegie units are, generally, slots of time a high school student spends under the instruction of a certified teacher.
Wiley College accepts applications from international and transfer students on a case by case basis. Transfer students from other accredited universities have to submit transcripts and prove they have a high school diploma or GED. International students have to submit themselves to the immigration laws of the United States and pay at least one year’s worth of tuition, room and board.
Once all requested information is submitted, prospective students who are accepted can begin courses. All new students are enrolled in the Special Studies at Wiley. The Special Studies department takes each student through the process of selecting classes, acclimating to life on campus, and counseling services to ensure student success.
Each new applicant is required to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA for short. This is easily done online or students can contact or visit the Unit of Student Financial Aid on the Wiley College campus.
Various scholarship opportunities are available which can help cover some, if not all, costs associated with a post secondary education at Wiley. Institutional scholarships include the following four rewards based on academics. The Presidential Scholarship is a full 4 year reward. Students must have a 3.7 GPA or higher upon graduating high school, and applicants have to maintain a 3.5 GPA during their academic career at the college. Recipients also have to score highly on the SAT or ACT to be considered. The Dean scholarship covers tuition only and has similar requirements as the Presidential scholarship. The Academic Merit scholarship pays for half of the tuition costs at Wiley and the Academic Honor scholarship gives a $2,000 reward. Each of these two scholarships require students have and maintain a 3.0 GPA or above and score at 870 on the SAT or 18 on the ACT.
Other monetary programs are available to freshmen. The Upward Bound program offers a weekly stipend to students who meet the requirements of the federally funded program. The TRIO Upward Bound program works with middle and high school students, their schools and post secondary institutions like Wiley to help students enroll and graduate from college.
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The Wiley College athletic program continues the tradition of instilling “Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Servant Leadership, and Sportsmanship principles for Champions of Character.” The Wiley Wildcats sport purple, gray, and white and are members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Red River Athletic Conference. The NAIA’s mission is to ensure that student athletes display values and character in sports, and the organization provides practical tools for not just the student athlete but coaches and parents as well that can be used in modeling positive and commendable character traits.
There are varsity and junior varsity teams in baseball, track and field, basketball and volleyball and include male and female teams for track and field and basketball. A Wiley college student, Broderick Meekings, was recently named male athlete of the year at the 2011 Red River Athletic Conference track meet. He is ranked fifth in the nation for the 200 meter dash.
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The Tom Joyner Foundation named Wiley College the school of the month for June 2011. If you have ever seen the movie, The Great Debaters, then you may know some of the tradition and history of Wiley College. The movie tells the true story of Professor Melvin Tolson who was a professor of English and Speech at Wiley College in 1924. Mr. Tolson was well-loved by his students.
Langston Hughes, a great author and poet, wrote of Mr. Tolson’s affect on his students and the Jim Crow South in general. Tolson was a ‘great debater’ and his debate teams rarely lost in competition. Tolson’s team even beat the Harvard debate team, making the Wiley college debate team the first group of black college students to do so at that time.
- Wiley College. Wiley College Academics. Web. 31 May 2011.
- Wiley College. Wiley College History. Web. 31 May 2011.
- Champions of Character. Red River Conference Wiley College. Web. 31 May 2011.
- Red River Conference. Red River Conference. Web. 31 May 2011.