Jona Rinard

MARIETTA, OH — For nearly two decades, Washington State College of Ohio (WSCO) has offered a more affordable pathway for future teachers to obtain their bachelor’s degree. The education transfer pathway supports students as they complete their two-year associate degree at WSCO and then transfer credits to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor’s degree, usually in just two additional years.

Over the years, WSCO has worked hard to establish strong transfer partnerships with four-year institutions. One such partnership with West Virginia University at Parkersburg has expanded access for aspiring educators on both sides of the Ohio River.

Paiten Wotring attributes the success of her educational journey to her experience attending both WSCO and WVU Parkersburg. “I graduated debt-free, which I initially didn’t think would be possible,” Wotring said. She enrolled at WSCO while attending Belpre High School in 2012 as an early college student, now called College Credit Plus (CCP). With credits already earned, she continued her studies at Washington State after graduating high school, originally seeking to become a librarian. “It really took that first classroom placement, done in the first semester, that made me realize I loved teaching and each experience in the field after that further cemented my love for education,” she shared.

With her WSCO associate degree in hand, Wotring wanted to further her education. “I learned I could earn my bachelor’s degree at WVU Parkersburg without having an hour-long commute or having to move away,” she said. While she considered other colleges, the articulation agreement between Washington State and WVU Parkersburg simplified the process of transferring her credits. She said she also enjoyed the closeness to home she felt when attending both institutions.

WSCO’s value and affordability, combined with the free courses she was able to take through Ohio’s state funded early college initiative, meant Wotring was able to earn her degree without being buried in debt or sacrificing quality. “I saved thousands of dollars, which would not have been possible had I chosen to start out or transfer to other universities within driving distance,” she said. “Even though my education was less expensive than it could have been at other colleges, I don’t feel that I’ve missed out on anything or that my experience was of a lesser quality.” Wotring graduated from WVU Parkersburg in the spring of 2021 and now teaches first grade at Fairplains Elementary School in Parkersburg, WV.

Dr. Jona Rinard, WSCO Dean of Transfer and Public Services, said that students, like Wotring, are in good hands when enrolled in the education transfer pathway. “Both schools have collaborated to assure the success of students who transfer from WSCO to WVU Parkersburg,” she said. The institutions work together to support students for their Praxis Core Exam that is required for licensure and certification of teachers, along with tutoring, and site visits. “It brings me great happiness knowing how prepared our WSCO students will be when graduating from WVU Parkersburg and entering into the field of education.”

Dr. David Lancaster, Dean of Education at WVU Parkersburg, also spoke about the successful partnership between the two institutions. In addition to the cost savings, students benefit from the one-on-one attention in small class sizes at WVU Parkersburg, a benefit they’ve already experienced at WSCO. “Smaller class sizes help build relationships between students and faculty and support a cooperating spirit of learning,” Lancaster said.

Like Wotring, WSCO Alumna Kayla Norman also had a positive experience transferring into the WVU Parkersburg education program. “I am originally from West Virginia but moved to Ohio after I got married,” Norman explained. “At the time, out of state tuition was too expensive.” While attending Washington State, she dreamed of earning her Bachelor’s degree in education. “My advisor got me in touch with Dr. Lancaster and I was able to go to WVU Parkersburg [earlier than expected] without paying out of state tuition through the transfer program.”

Following her graduation from WVU Parkersburg, Norman received teaching licenses in both West Virginia and Ohio. Norman recommends this experience to other students. “I believe that the people working at both WSCO and WVU Parkersburg will go above and beyond to help individuals succeed in furthering their education,” Norman said. Today, she teaches 4th grade English Language Arts and Science at Criss Elementary School in Parkersburg, WV.

In addition to the education program, WSCO offers transfer programs in business administration, general science, liberal arts, and social services. They also have articulation agreements with other colleges such as Marietta College, Ohio University, University of Cincinnati and more. For more information, visit