Just outside Charlotte, Winthrop’s historic campus offers opportunity

Heidi Finley

Photo by Corey Nolen, Winthrop University

Facts and stats:

Winthrop University is a public institution in Rock Hill, S.C., about a 30 minute drive from south Charlotte. Its more than 5,000 undergraduates can choose from 128 majors, the most popular of which are business, biology and education.

Amanda James, assistant to the vice president for access and enrollment management, said, “Winthrop is best known for the opportunities students have to gain experiences that help them succeed beyond Winthrop. This ranges from undergraduate research that is available to all students, to numerous internship and student development opportunities to faculty and staff members who are determined to ensure each student is set up to be successful.”

The focus of the academics and student services programs are on helping students reach their potential and to prepare them for the career and life of their dreams, she said.

“Winthrop’s roots are as a teaching college for women, and we have built on that reputation to become the flagship education institution for the Palmetto state. In addition to education, the university offers an extensive number of academic programs in our colleges of business administration, arts and sciences, and visual and performing arts,” James added.

In fall 2017, 73 percent of undergraduate applicants were accepted to Winthrop. Incoming freshmen had an average SAT score of 1087, excluding the results of the writing examination.

Undergraduate in-state tuition and mandatory fees for full-time students in 2017-18 was about $15,410.

What’s new on campus:

James said the university’s “First Year Experience” is now in its second year of helping new students transition to the academic, extracurricular and social aspects of college life.

Each new student is assigned an upperclassman mentor to serve as a role model and resource. New students also take a course designed to help them develop skills to be successful in higher learning while promoting the support and opportunities of the Winthrop community.

James also noted a new dual enrollment program for juniors and seniors in high schools to earn college credit and an increased number of online course offerings.

What’s life like on campus?:

Student body President Tadean Page said, “Life on campus is pretty amazing. Winthrop University offers a variety of food options, a fully loaded gym, and tons of events and activities on a daily basis.”

The university’s 18 NCAA intercollegiate athletic teams – including basketball, soccer, golf and tennis – play in the Big South Conference.

On Fridays, the Student Alumni Council encourages the campus community to promote Winthrop by dressing in the school’s colors, garnet and gold. The university website says council members award prizes for those dressed up and issue “citations,” for those wearing a rival school’s gear.

Winthrop also hosts activities such a homecoming-week student talent show, campus ghost tours that explore university legends and a Halloween Happenings event in its residence halls for children of faculty, staff and the community, its website says.

Photo by Corey Nolen, Winthrop University

What do students like best?:

Page said, “The thing I enjoy most about Winthrop University is the diversity. Our university is like a giant melting pot that includes various races, cultures, beliefs, sexual identities and much more. I am constantly connecting with someone who is different than me, and I find that to be the most enjoyable part of my Winthrop experience.”

Fun traditions:

Winthrop’s website touts the  school’s “Blue Line” as among its most cherished traditions. It began in 1895, when women wearing blue and white uniforms were led by the university president in lines down Oakland Avenue to attend any one of the street’s many churches. When the uniform policy ended, the tradition lost its identity, but it was revived in 1983. The modern tradition features the university president leading the convocation procession out of Byrnes Auditorium to the front lawn of Tillman Hall, where participants wearing Winthrop t-shirts convene for a community picnic.

What do students like least?: 

“The feature that I least like about Winthrop is that we do not have a football team,” Page said. “Saturday afternoon football would be amazing!”

Best advice from current students:

Page said, Advice that I would offer incoming students is to jump in 100%. College is a fresh start and a chance to view the world from a different perspective. Take full advantage of that! Have fun, study hard, meet new people, get involved, and enjoy the Winthrop experience.”

Photo by Corey Nolen, Winthrop University

What surprises people most about Winthrop: 

Winthrop’s campus features splendid neo-Georgian buildings and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

“For first-time visitors, the beauty of Winthrop’s campus surprises and impresses the most,” James said. “The campus has the look of a private college but the cost of a public institution.”

James added, “Winthrop continues to build partnerships throughout the region to expand the opportunities for students to succeed in the ‘real world.’”


Finley is the editor of Carolina College Bound. Send questions or suggestions to hfinley@charlotteobserver.com

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