What is “Passing”?
Since WilSkills was originally founded as an accredited Vanderbilt course, we have retained a loose course-like structure as a way to pay homage to our origins. While you won’t get any “real” college credit today, passing does earn you pro-deals, discounts, and most importantly, the intangible sense of accomplishment only you can truly appreciate.
How Do I Pass?
Anyone can pass the course by meeting five requirements in the span of one semester. You must attend four trips, eight lectures, recycle twice, take the final exam, and attend Final Party.
Why Should I Pass?
Passing is a challenging, but rewarding experience reserved for students who are willing to dedicate the time and effort to do so. In addition to meeting new people, learning new skills, and expanding your horizons, there are several more tangible benefits of passing:
- Opportunity to apply for instructorship
- Discount on all future trips
- Access to Pro-deals for discounted gear.
- Free outdoors gear. Now that you have some of the skills, we would like you to be able to go on similar trips without our guidance and equipment. This often includes items such as headlamps, wool socks, and Nalgenes.
What If I’d Rather Not Pass?
This is totally fine! We want everyone to feel welcome in WilSkills and encourage anyone to be exactly as involved as they want to be. Any student is perfectly allowed to pass or not pass as many semesters as they please.
Pay Per Trip
If you aren’t sure how many trips you’ll be able to make it on, you can pay for one trip at a time at a rate of $40 per trip. As a broke college student, it may seem hard to give up $40 for a weekend, but it is probably less than you would spend going out to eat at Chili’s twice this weekend if you stayed on campus. Almost certainly cheaper than if you rented a canoe and drove out to Asheville by yourself. Trust us, this is insanely cheap for what you’re getting.
Passing the course earns you a 15% discount on all future trips (and multiplies each time you pass). If you already know you’d like to pass, you can get in on the action ahead of time with the Passing Package. That’s the cost of four trips minus 15%. So, for an entire semester, you can go on unlimited WilSkills trips for $135, or even $95 if you’ve already passed the course. Since the discounts keep stacking on top of each other if you only pass 7 times then every trip your 8th semester in Wilskills will be free.
Although we try to make financial aid as simple as possible, we also have scholarships for returning students which any instructor can help you apply for. The Kevin Putney scholarship provides a free passing package based on an applicant’s essay, and honors a previous Wilskills member who loved the Wilskills community and whose parents want to make the course accessible to more Vanderbilt students.
WilSkills is committed to making sure any Vanderbilt student has the opportunity to experience WilSkills. All students who are on partial to full financial aid may apply for free Wilskills trips through Experience Vanderbilt. We ask that you apply here for funding first, and if you are unable to receive aid we will still likely be able to help.
What is the objective of the course?
What are the requirements to pass the course?
Who is eligible to take the course?
How is the course structured?
Is WilSkills a regular academic course, a sports club or part of the Vanderbilt Outdoor Recreation Program?
What equipment do I need to take the course?
Do trips get harder over time?
Qualifications for Student Instructors
- Have passed the WilSkills course as student participant.
- Have participated in a minimum of four WilSkills trips before becoming an instructor.
- Demonstrate advanced competency for WilSkills activities (paddling, climbing, backpacking)
- Attend formal instructor training weekends and other training events throughout the semester.
- Demonstrate knowledge of nearest hospitals to trip area in the event of an emergency.
General Policies (applicable to all trips)
- All student trips are alcohol, drug, and tobacco free.
- Anyone in a WilSkills vehicle or private vehicle used for a WilSkills trip must wear a seatbelt whenever the vehicle is in motion.
- When possible, at least one instructor must be present in every tent.
- Students may not drive the WilSkills vans.
- When possible, at least 2 instructors should be present in each van.
- First aid kits must be carried at all times during a trip.
- The equipment chair is responsible for ensuring that all safety gear used on trips is properly maintained and fully functional.
Paddling Specific Policies
- All students and instructors must wear helmets and life jackets while paddling.
- When possible, beginner students will be paired with instructors or with experienced students.
Climbing Specific Policies
- Students and instructors must wear helmets when climbing or belaying.
- Students are not permitted to lead or clean climbs.
- Students may belay an instructor leading or cleaning a route at the discretion of the instructor.
- No student is permitted to belay another person unsupervised without first demonstrating proficiency in basic belay technique.
- Persons not associated with WilSkills may not use WilSkills climbing gear in weight-bearing situations, nor may students and instructors use the gear of such persons in weight-bearing situations and associated safety policies.