Hunter College

Posted on June 1, 2010

Opening Doors to a New Future

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation has enjoyed a partnership with Hunter College since 1981. Located in the heart of Manhattan, Hunter offers a rare combination of an affordable education in a cosmopolitan setting, attracting students from within the city and the tri-state area, from across the nation and from more than 140 countries. Ranked #2 in the 2010 Best Value Public College category by USA Today/Princeton Review, Hunter had more applicants this year than ever before. The Newcombe Foundation celebrates its longstanding relationship with Hunter in providing opportunities and assistance for mature women as they navigate the process of earning a degree.

Hunter students are not statistics, but statistics help to portray them. Hunter, a college whose matriculated undergraduate enrollment stands at well over 15,000, serves a large and diverse population of non-traditional students. Although coed, Hunter began as a women’s college and is still today 72% female. More than 40% of matriculated undergraduates are twenty-five years old or over; 79% of the graduate students are twenty-six or over. Of the students who responded to a recent study, 38.6% are White, non-Hispanic; 17.7% are Black, non-Hispanic; 21.7% are Hispanic; 16%, Asian/Pacific Islander; and 0.3%, American Indian/Native Alaskan. Fifty-five percent of Hunter’s students were born outside of the U.S.

This year’s Charlotte W. Newcombe recipients come from China, Japan, Russia (Siberia), Dominican Republic, the Outback of Australia, Poland, Canada…and the United States. They have come for their own American dream, for opportunities to develop their interests and skills and to support themselves and their families. The Newcombe Scholarship is of particular value to our international students for whom this scholarship provides their only possible source of scholarship funding. Serving nearly one thousand students, the International Students Office plays a pivotal role in assisting students as they adjust to life in the U.S., New York City and Hunter College. Through its services of individual advising and workshops held throughout the year, the Office helps students acclimate to the culture of the college and their new country. The International Students Office, through its membership organizations, connects international students with cultural events and internships. The Office also promotes the Global Classroom program, allowing our immigrant and international students to reach out to New York City public school students, introducing them to their birth country’s history, politics, and culture.

Fei Yan (Pepsi) Mock, a current Hunter College student and Newcombe scholar, was born in China where she contracted polio as an infant – fifteen years after the polio vaccine was invented. Her family, residents of a small village in China, did not have access to the vaccine and, as a result, she is confined to a wheelchair. Coming to the United States and Hunter College gave her opportunities unimagined; majoring in biochemistry, she attends research conferences and is currently working on developing an agent to work against HIV. This summer she is doing research at Yale. She plans to pursue post-doctoral studies in biomedical science and then to develop affordable polio vaccines for distribution in developing countries. In keeping with Hunter’s dedication to the liberal arts, it is interesting to note that Fei Yan has a minor in classical studies.

Hunter College student Fei Yan Mock
Fei Yan Mock, Biochemistry major at Hunter College

As financial pressures mount in one of the most expensive cities in which to live, many students find that they must increase their work schedules and adjust their college coursework; thus the proportion of students who study part-time increases as they progress in college: while 18% of sophomores attend part-time, 30% of juniors do so, and 48% of seniors are part-time students. Non-traditional students take advantage of the flexibility of Hunter’s class schedules, weekend courses and a growing number of online courses. They enroll in programs in the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Health Sciences, the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing and the School of Education, and on the graduate level, the School of Social Work. Even before they receive their degrees, Hunter students publish poetry and short stories in renowned magazines (and some publish full-scale novels); others co-author scientific articles in professional journals, develop and operate social-service facilities, curate and exhibit their work in professionally reviewed art exhibits, and play important roles in civic organizations.

The college’s focus on the non-traditional population is expressed in a variety of ways. Academic advising is available in the Office of Student Affairs as early as 7:00 a.m., staffed by a former returning woman student who frequently meets with women who come to classes in the morning, go to work and return to classes again in the evening. Mature Students are fortunate to have the services of a dedicated staff of advisors and personal counselors committed to students’ academic success and personal wellbeing. A staff of career counselors help students with career exploration and provide internship opportunities which are invaluable in today’s job market. To offer greater flexibility, students may take courses at any of the seventeen colleges that constitute CUNY, the City University of New York, offering more course options and greater time selection. To facilitate the ability of mothers (and fathers) to attend Hunter, The Children’s Learning Center offers child care for children from the ages of 2 ½ to 6 and then afterschool care to children ages 6-12.

Children's Learning Center at Hunter College
The Children’s Learning Center at Hunter College

A majority of Hunter’s mature women are transfer students from a university abroad, a community college or another senior college. They benefit from a “transfer team” of advisers who shepherd them through their transition. To ease the transfer from CUNY community colleges to Hunter, students who have earned their associate degrees are exempted from Hunter’s core courses of the general education requirements. Non-traditional students also benefit from the CUNY Baccalaureate Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies Program, a university-wide program that allows students the opportunity to formulate their own individualized course of study with the guidance of faculty mentors whom the students select. In all these ways, mature women have the options and opportunities to individualize their own college experience.

By offering many options – and resources – for success at an affordable price at a highly regarded public institution, Hunter has succeeded in providing access to higher education for thousands of non-traditional students. The number of non-traditional, international, first generation college students, and recent immigrants who find a home at Hunter attests to the strength of Hunter College’s commitment to opening doors for students who might not have the opportunity to attend college otherwise. In addition, the college’s nearly thirty-year relationship with the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation has been and is an invaluable resource to Hunter College’s mature women affording them encouragement and sustenance as they continue towards their educational and personal goals.

For further information about Hunter’s programs for Mature Students, please visit their website.