Central Wyoming College in Riverton doesn’t just excel academically, it defies expectations.
Securing a spot in the top 2.1% of colleges nationally and earning the title of Wyoming’s No. 1 community college by Niche, this accomplishment is underscored by the fact that 80% of CWC’s students are officially designated as “at risk.”
Niche is recognized for its thorough assessment of educational institutions on a national scale. It employs a range of metrics to formulate comprehensive scores, encompassing graduation rates, professor quality, educational value, campus safety and diversity.
CWC’s distinction as the premier community college in Wyoming goes beyond academic excellence, highlighting its dedication to nurturing success within a diverse and challenging demographic, said Jennifer Marshall Weydeveld, the college’s executive director of Marketing and Public Relations.
“We care deeply about our students,” she said. “From the moment they come on campus, we wrap our arms around them to get them through to the end. We work hard to provide them with all the resources we can so that they are successful.”
Numbers Don’t Lie
The heartening narrative of Central Wyoming College extends beyond rankings, as revealed in the recent Board of Trustees meeting where Dr. Kathy Wells, vice president of Academic Affairs, presented compelling student success results:
92.7% mastery in general education courses (GEC): Students completing general education courses achieved an outstanding 92.7% mastery of learning outcomes, establishing a strong foundation for further academic pursuits.
94.3% mastery in degree-seeking courses (DSC): The 2022-2023 academic year witnessed a notable increase, with degree-seeking students achieving an impressive 94.3% mastery of outcomes for all assessed courses.
Exemplary performance on ETS Proficiency Profile Exam (ETS): CWC students not only excelled, but surpassed, the total mean scores in all categories on the ETS Proficiency Profile Exam, a testament to the institution's dedication to academic excellence.
Best performer recognitions: The National Community College Benchmark Project (NCCBP) identified Central Wyoming College as a Best Performer (above the 90th percentile) in seven academic achievement categories, further solidifying its commitment to high standards.
Industry certification success (ICS): Graduates demonstrated exceptional proficiency on industry certifications and licensing exams, achieving a remarkable 100% pass rate for all but one.
Central Wyoming College's success story is firmly grounded in a culture of caring, innovation, hard work and quality, a sentiment recently highlighted by President Brad Tyndall.
This commitment holds particular significance as CWC serves the highest percentage of at-risk students in the state.
Innovation And Inclusivity
The term "at risk" signifies additional challenges or obstacles that may hinder academic success. It encompasses factors such as economic disadvantage, lack of stable housing, or limited access to educational resources.
Despite these hurdles, Tyndall commended the team’s tireless efforts, stating, “It’s especially amazing given that CWC has about 80% of its students officially classified as ‘at risk,’ the highest in the state.”
Acknowledging the dedication required to navigate these hurdles, the college's commitment to innovation and inclusivity involves recognizing the unique needs of each student, adapting to those needs, and creating an environment where success is not just encouraged but made achievable, Weydeveld said.
From the moment students set foot on campus, deliberate efforts are made to provide not only academic resources, but also emotional and social support. The faculty and staff at CWC go beyond traditional roles, acting as mentors and guides for students.
A cornerstone of CWC's commitment to inclusivity is the TRIO program, a federally funded outreach and student service program.
TRIO provides a comprehensive support structure, offering academic assistance, financial guidance and personalized support tailored to the specific needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Another way CWC fosters student success is through its Bachelor of Applied Science degrees program, which continues to grow. CWC has introduced Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in multiple fields. Some of these include entrepreneurship, tribal leadership, law enforcement, agriculture, outdoor education and early childhood teaching.
Of the 2,139 students enrolled at CWC last fall, 143 are actively pursuing bachelor degrees through this program.
The institution also has launched diverse initiatives, from cosmetology and the Alpine Science Institute to the Institute of Tribal Learning.
“We are very focused on not just graduating students with college degrees, but degrees that are needed in Wyoming’s workforce so these students will have jobs when they graduate,” Weydeveld said.
To The Workforce
To ensure students are prepared for the workforce, the college also provides internship opportunities and hands-on experiences. Initiatives like the Rustler Ag and Equine Complex and the regenerative farm in Sinks Canyon exemplify this proactive approach.
The Rustler Ag and Equine Complex has made CWC the leader in equine programs among colleges, complemented by a new ranch horse team.
In nursing, where CWC boasts consistently high National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates, additional support mechanisms are implemented. The college tailored resources, mentorship programs and career guidance to ensure their success in both academic and professional realms.
CWC's student life also thrives with numerous clubs and the most extensive variety of sports teams among community colleges in Wyoming. Regular movie nights, planned activities and the vibrant atmosphere contribute to a holistic educational experience, Weydeveld said.
For several semesters, Central Wyoming College has experienced record enrollment growth, with a notable 9% increase in the last fall.
“Our growth reflects the success of the college,” Weydeveld said. “We are not just educating students but creating an environment where students can flourish and be successful both in the workforce and their personal lives.”
Prospective students to CWC can explore the Niche platform to find a detailed breakdown of Central Wyoming College's performance as well as reviews by students and alumni.