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Notes on the Fly: Warren Wilson College

*College campus tours are packed with information and always an amazing experience. In my "notes on the fly" blog, I will be sharing facts about the college/university that I write "on the fly" during my visits.*

Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa North Carolina

One of 8 work colleges

Everyone works for minimum wage at some kind of job. Farm, horse, custodial, food crew etc...goes toward tuition

Environmental science, creative writing strong majors

Work, service and education

All students complete 100 service hours before graduation

Sustainability is important - 100% recycled etc.


- core curriculum but flexible in nature

- 21 undergrad majors

- environmental sustainability, environmental/forestry

- the working landscape is part of the curriculum

- experiential model - on campus work with off campus engagement

- senior capstone project - sequence of courses that is mentored - especially in the sciences

- good degrees, job experience, research experience, service and community experience

- practical experience is what separates the school from others

Integrated advising

  • applied learning and pathways to graduate outcomes

  • A WW graduate is prepared to engage in ground breaking scholarship

  • 1 of 8 work colleges - all students have to work as part of their education. 85 work crews. Office support, landscaping, gardening, etc.

  • LGBTQ work crew and one of the most friendly schools in the country

  • 10 hours a week for freshman, move up to 15 to 20 as they move through school

  • Community engagement - 1. Learn to explore, 2. Go deep with one issue, 3. Signature community engagement experience - putting the knowledge to work

  • Each student finds their own path, students are encouraged to test their assumptions - can be a generalist or a specialist.

  • Critical thinking, problem solving, professionalism and teamwork

  • Integrated advising, first and second year

Land as a Learning Lab

- Teaching, research, management, Enterprise

- applied learning. Get to do what they are studying

- 1100 acres - divided between the farm (animals), garden (5 acres), apiary, draft horses, forest land for non-timber uses

- outdoors can be the primary classroom


- integrated working landscape, gives students the opportunity to specialize. How can they integrate it into the broader community - outside stakeholders

- conservation - how to protect the land against inappropriate growth

- outreach - the more students are involved with the outside community

- most classes can be taught outside.


- students run the campus. Doing the work to keep the campus running

- develops confidence that work builds for the work place


- all science students, sequenced course work with a presentation at the end.

- faculty research - novel and innovative land management systems. Educate surrounding landowners


- Doing well by doing good

- contribute to the social good and environment. Green entrepreneurship

- from blackboard to finished product

- herb crew, truffle development, meat production

Athletics and adventure sports - moving toward division 3

- cross country

- soccer

- mtn biking

- swimming

- basketball

- lacrosse

- road cycling

Outdoor program - climbing wall

- every weekend there is something going on. Lot’s of opportunity to be involved

Student Activities

- seen a period of growth adding clubs

- spin arts - aerial

- orientation - large percentage students from out of state. Runs right before schools starts for 5 days. There are 2 adventure programs for those who are particularly nervous about transitioning to college.

- event planning

Financial aid and merit

- 2.75 automatically given merit, 21K at the top end

- in house need based awarding, Pell grants

- NC free tuition for 2 students

- Mile Post 1 scholarship - is a tuition reduction program for middle class students who may not have demonstrated need but can’t afford college

- growing enrollment - 20% over the last 5 years, little more room to grow. Max out around 800. 40% instate, 60% out of state


- wholistic review for all applications. Looking for students who can communicate effectively. Are they having engaged experiences? Looking for passion and sticking with something

Support for LD

- tutoring, accommodation plans

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