Sheridan College has a new 67,850-acre classroom. The school was recently granted access to the Bighorn Mountains by the U.S. Forest Service and acquired a famous tract of land known as Spear-O-Wigwam Ranch, which is located below the sky-scraping peaks of this expansive range. The ranch is where legendary author Ernest Hemingway finished writing A Farewell to Arms in the late 1920s. Now students enrolled in outdoor education sessions at Sheridan College will experience the rugged beauty of the land for themselves.
“This college has always been a place where the learning isn't just in the classroom, so Spear-O-Wigwam adds another opportunity to get our students engaged with the wider world,” says Paul Young, president of Sheridan College. “For example, there is a current research project on the ranch studying pack rats, with weather being predicted based entirely on what pack rats put away at various times of the year.”
That is one of several interesting occurrences at the college these days, with another being some of the first campus expansions since Sheridan College opened in 1967.
“We will be constructing a new $15 million academic center thanks to funding from the State of Wyoming and Whitney Benefits, a foundation that assists academic endeavors in Sheridan County,” Young says. “There will be a groundbreaking in the spring of 2012 and the academic center will add 14 brand new high-tech classrooms to our campus.”
New Dorm, Too
Young says there are also plans to expand and renovate the student center.
“None of our existing buildings are tear downs – they are all in good shape but they are 40-50 years old and were constructed when there were 100 resident students on the campus,” he says. “Today, there are 400 resident students and after we finish work on the academic center and the student center, we are going to add another 350-bed dorm building to bring the bed total to 750. The college is really becoming a community within a community in Sheridan County.”
$5,000 or $20,000?
Besides the Sheridan main campus, the college has a campus in Gillette and outreach programs in Campbell and Johnson counties. The two-year Sheridan College offers several associate of arts, associate of science and associate of applied science degrees, plus certificate programs.
“In this tough economy, we also provide strong value,” Young says. “I'll argue that the courses a student takes in their first or second years at Sheridan College are as academically strong as they would get at any higher education institution. Plus students will save a lot of money, with Sheridan County residents paying $5,000-$6,000 a year for tuition, room and board compared to other colleges where those costs can often exceed $20,000 a year.”
Intern to Employment
Young adds that classes at Sheridan College are often comprised of only 12-14 students.
“We offer a diversity of programs, including culinary, hospitality, literature, science, history, theater, nursing, construction technology and welding technology,” he says. “Plus we can place students in a variety of intern programs, with many of those students eventually becoming employed at those same companies where they intern.”