The Ashford University campus was a bustle of enthusiasm yesterday as students cracked open books on the first day of the school year.
“We are expecting a great mix of students again,” Director of Communications for Ashford Larry Libberton said. Official student count for those attending classes on the Clinton campus will not be known until the end of next week.
Seventeen-year-old Serina Rippy, of Clinton, started her freshman year Monday. The elementary education major will seek endorsements in special education and English as she pursues the career she said she’s very passionate about.
Rippy will be living at home and commuting the short distance to Ashford.
“I’m kind of nervous, but at the same time, it could be worse. I could be in a new city,” she said.
Rippy was one of the many students to take advantage of Ashford’s presidential scholarship this year which awards full tuition to students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
Her first semester of college includes courses in history, college algebra, freshman experience and computers.
The savvy student said she’s been paying attention to Ashford in the news.
Ashford has made headlines recently for being denied an accreditation from the Western Association of colleges and being one of the for-profit universities covered in a report from U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. The university, however, is still accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Heading into the school year, Rippy is confident in the worth of her degree.
“I’m not really worried about it,” Rippy said. “One of the first questions I asked was will those credits transfer to another school.”
Rippy said she was assured that Ashford’s education program would lead her to a career in education, but will continue to pay attention to anything that might change that.
“It’s something I really want to do so I’ll be watching it. Because if they aren’t good, I’ll need to go somewhere else,” she said.
Tyler Minnick, a junior at Ashford with a double major in business and social science said he’s not fazed by Ashfords recent stint in the news. “I do know about it, but I’m looking forward and I try to keep positive,” he said.
Minnick said he’s confident that Ashford’s parent company, Bridgepoint Education, will make the decisions necessary to maintain the legacy and programs at the university.
The Davenport native has been a Clinton resident for five years. He commutes to Ashford and serves as the Executive Vice President of the Student Government Association.
“I’m pretty excited about the direction we’re putting Ashford in,” Minnick said.
He chose to attend Ashford three years ago for a number of reasons, including the tight knit campus.
“I really like the close kind of community. That’s something everybody seems to like,” he said.
Members of the Clinton community are reminded that although there are not an overwhelming number of students flooding the area, there will be an influx of people.
“Whenever there are hundreds of staff, faculty and students heading to campus, there will be increases in traffic. As in the past, commuter students have been encouraged to park their cars free of charge at the South Campus and ride our free shuttle bus,” Libberton said.
New students, such as Rippy, attended orientation last weekend that included a number of activities such as a block party at one of the residence halls. This week they will also have the opportunity to take part in a number of Welcome Week events.
Among the events for new students, those returning will also notice changes in improvements to the campus.
“Returning students will be excited to see the complete renovation of our science building that was completed during the summer. The science building was built in 1965 and this will be the first time that major improvements have been made to it,” Libberton said.