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Conference Focuses on Student-Parents

Posted: March 20, 2014

Approximately 55 people from 13 colleges and universities attended a conference held March 7 at Wilson College for higher education professionals who work with student-parents.

: March 20, 2014
CONTACT: Margaret Light, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
Phone: 717-264-4141, Ext. 3179

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Approximately 55 people from 13 colleges and universities attended a conference held March 7 at Wilson College for higher education professionals who work with student-parents.

Wilson and the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation co-sponsored the conference, Student-Parents on Campus—Creating Intentional/Supportive Environments to Foster their Success, which included a keynote address, morning and afternoon workshops, and a panel featuring participants in Wilson’s Women with Children (WWC) program for single mothers discussing their experiences with the program.

Wilson College President Barbara K. Mistick and Newcombe Foundation Executive Director Thomas N. Wilfrid welcomed participants from institutions in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maryland to the day-long conference. Wilson, Shippensburg University and Penn State Mont Alto were among the schools represented.

Keynote speaker Autumn R. Green, a sociologist and advocate for low-income families, delivered an address called Balancing School, Work and Family in a Constant State of Crisis: The Experiences of Low-Income Mothers, which was based on her research on the topic.

Student-parents are the fastest-growing subpopulation of post-secondary students and they represent 23 percent of undergraduate students in the United States, according to Green, who said 57 percent of student-parents are low-income and 68 percent are single parents.

“The bachelor’s degree completion rate for these students is 4 percent, which is just absolutely, in my mind, unacceptable,” said Green, who discussed the detrimental effects of policy decisions on student-parents, such as requiring them to take a minimum number of credits or requiring them to work a minimum number of hours to receive financial assistance. “If you don’t have housing and food and safety, education becomes difficult,” Green said.

Workshops focused on such topics as balancing work, family and school; keeping education-related debt in check; supporting student-parents in career success; and increasing retention through counseling.

Based in Princeton, N.J., the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation has supported scholarships for mature women since 1981, according to Wilfrid. Wilson is one of 32 institutional partners in the organization’s mature women program. The foundation has provided Wilson adult degree and WWC students with more than $300,000 in scholarships since 1986, Wilfrid said.

The partnership has been fruitful for Wilson students over the past 28 years, Mistick said. “The foundation has really changed the lives of 300 students over that time period,” she said.

The Newcombe foundation began in 1979 with a bequest from the estate belonging to the late Charlotte W. Newcombe, a Philadelphia philanthropist, who wanted it to continue her lifelong interest in supporting students seeking degrees in higher education. Since 1981, the foundation has awarded grants totaling $58.6 million to provide scholarships and fellowships in higher education.

For more information, contact Margaret Light at 264-4141, Ext. 3179, or


Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college offering bachelor’s degrees in 25 majors and master’s degrees in education, the humanities and accountancy. Wilson is committed to providing an affordable education that offers value to its students beyond graduation.

Located in Chambersburg, Pa., the college had a fall 2013 enrollment of 662, which includes students from 20 states and 14 countries. Visit for more information.

Last Updated: March 20, 2014