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Thiel College ‘commits’ to its future

Many colleges talk about being dedicated to student success, but recently the administration at Thiel College, an ELCA school in Greenville, Pennsylvania, has decided to speak to that commitment by launching the appropriately named Thiel Commitment this fall.

New Thiel College President Troy VanAken asked incoming college students for ideas about how to make the institution more responsive. The college then incorporated some of these ideas into a new plan. Photo provided by Thiel College.

“This is unique and we want students to see our commitment to education.” -Amy Becher

The Thiel Commitment is designed to assist students as they navigate their way through college. “This program is a pledge to new students,” explained Amy Becher, the dean of enrollment.
The program has four distinct dimensions: career discernment seminars before classes begin, an electronic portfolio system, a ninth-semester tuition waiver, and discounted tuition for alumni.
“We have found that students who enter college undecided often take longer to graduate, so there is career discernment before classes begin,” said Becher.
The goal of the e-portfolio is to assist students in showcasing their skills to potential employers. “On a transcript all someone sees is a list of classes, but there is a lot more to that in college,” Becher said.
The ninth-semester tuition waiver is what is getting most attention. “Sometimes taking an internship, volunteering, or studying abroad will [require] more time to graduate. The tuition waiver shows we are dedicated to making education affordable and helping students have a well-rounded experience,” Becher said. “In essence, this is an additional scholarship,” she added.
The idea for the Thiel Commitment came from its new president, Dr. Troy VanAken. “When he began in July 2009, he called over 250 incoming students to talk to them about different elements of Thiel,” said Becher.
“The things the students talked about were tangibility and affordability. None of this is new to Thiel, but now we decided to make sure students were aware about these aspects, and we decided to take things a step further,” she said.
“We are the only one doing this,” Becher said. “This is unique and we want students to see our commitment to education.” For more information, visit

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