Partnership with Verto Education enables gap semester
William & Mary will offer waitlisted applicants a guaranteed pathway to admission next spring if they either complete a semester at a two-year college or participate in a fall-semester program abroad with Verto Education, which offers immersive international experiences with academic credits.
Waitlisted applicants will be guaranteed admission to William & Mary in the spring if they meet GPA requirements while completing a semester at an accredited two-year college, including but not limited to Richard Bland College, which is governed by W&M’s Board of Visitors.
Alternatively, waitlisted students may pursue a gap-semester program overseas with Verto Education, which has partnered with William & Mary.
According to the organization, Verto’s student-centric approach allows students to begin college with small classes and personalized attention in a supportive international environment. William & Mary has been working on the partnership with Verto for months. Although travel currently is restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Verto anticipates the resumption of its programs in the fall. For both William & Mary and Verto, the safety of students is top priority.
“In light of the uncertainty we are all experiencing right now, it is critical that families have more options. And having multiple paths to William & Mary for the spring semester expands who comes here in wonderful ways,” said President Katherine A. Rowe. “Students who want the flexibility to remain closer to home may begin with a local community college semester. Those who choose a gap semester gain the flexibility to study abroad. Both bring an intrepid mindset that we value at William & Mary, and we look forward to welcoming them.”
Under the initiative, William & Mary’s waitlisted students will earn college credits through any of Verto’s five semester-long programs throughout the world. Those will be applied as transfer credits when the students matriculate to William & Mary in the spring semester.
“We are excited to be partners with William & Mary on this initiative, as the benefits of education abroad are profound, diverse and lifelong,” said Verto Education President and cofounder Mitch Gordon. “Students attending a Verto program are exposed to life-changing experiences that help clarify their academic interests and potential career paths early. We believe this promotes positive student outcomes. At the same time, the safety of students is our top priority so we will continue to evaluate conditions abroad with the novel coronavirus before proceeding with our programs this fall.”
Verto Education provides small classes and cultural immersion through its custom curriculum. Some select academic course options offered through Verto include World Literature in London, European History and Spanish Economics in Madrid, Global Health and Environmental Science in Latin America, and Cultural Anthropology and Environmental Science in the South Pacific.
Verto’s programs are also designed to be an affordable option for students considering William & Mary. Students entering its programs with demonstrated financial need are eligible for federal financial aid. Students qualifying for federal Pell Grants also qualify for additional scholarship dollars through Verto’s Latin American Opportunity Grant.
Some of Verto’s program offerings are also more affordable for students than spending a semester at a four-year residential campus.
“Our waitlisted applicant population is very strong academically,” said Tim Wolfe, associate vice president for enrollment and dean of admission. “This talented cohort of students won’t sit and wait to come to us in the spring. This partnership allows us to offer an appealing start to their undergraduate experience before transferring seamlessly to W&M.”
Gap-year and gap-semester programs have been steadily increasing in popularity in recent years, and studies have suggested that they and study-abroad programs improve undergraduate experiences and success rates, according to Inside Higher Education.
The new partnership with Verto is one of several tactics William & Mary has been exploring in order to modestly boost enrollment while maintaining the distinctive education for which the university is known. The measures are also designed to mitigate enrollment fluctuations in the face of a projected national drop in high school graduates between 2024 and 2032.
“Peak enrollment for William & Mary is the fall semester; in spring, we have capacity,” said Henry Broaddus, vice president for strategic initiatives & public affairs. “This is the kind of smart growth that we’ve been talking about with the faculty. We have room to admit more students in the spring without stretching our small class sizes and residential character. We can scale up spring at very low cost and grow that cohort through Verto in a way we couldn’t by ourselves.”
Broaddus and Wolfe outlined other measures to W&M’s governing Board of Visitors in February, including the guarantee of admission to waitlisted students who want to remain closer to home and attend a two-year institution for one semester in the fall before beginning at W&M in the spring.All students who elect to accept a place on William & Mary's waitlist will continue to receive consideration for admission to William & Mary for the fall semester as space allows.