Education

Many college students did not graduate. Why not give them an associate degree?

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Colorado is preparing to enact legislation to allow four-year universities to provide associate degrees to students who have dropped out despite significant progress in bachelor’s degrees.The initiative, for more and more Community colleges that offer four-year degreesThis is part of a broader effort to support students and workers hit by the pandemic.

Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, said that more than 700,000 people in the state have colleges but no degrees. Approximately 13,000 Colorados who have left college in the past three years will be eligible for an associate degree initiated by Colorado’s re-engagement initiative. HB 21-1330, She added. The bill has passed both houses and is awaiting signature by the governor.

“Some students drop out after three or three and a half years at a four-year university-for whatever reason, life will happen-and may be one semester away from the bachelor’s degree,” Paccione Say. “They enter the market, and the highest certificate they have is a high school diploma. That’s not right. You should show it something that has market value.”

Other states have similar plans. The University of New Hampshire offers six associate degrees, mainly in science. The University of South Carolina has five regional campuses and offers a two-year degree, after which students can complete a bachelor’s degree online.

According to the Colorado Act, four-year universities will be able to award associate degrees to the following students:

  • Did not transfer from a community college
  • Not registered for at least two semesters
  • Obtain at least 70 credits, including core courses and other courses required for associate degrees

Paccione thought about the earning power of associate degrees — she thought it was $13,000 to 15,000 more than a high school diploma each year — and these students missed it. The program will also encourage students to re-register and complete their bachelor’s degree program.

“I know someone who didn’t complete a course,” she said.

The financial consequences of owning some universities but not having a degree usually even exceed the potential for salary reduction. Many people who start college without completing their studies have to bear the debts incurred by loans to pay for tuition.

“So you go to college, and you have nothing to prove other than three years of student loan debt and a high school diploma,” Paccione said. “Every time I think about it, I think,’How can we escape for so long?'”

The plan will receive $1 million to operate and carry out statewide publicity activities.

Paccione said that if everything goes according to plan, “this will be a big event, a big event, a big event.”

An idea worth spreading?

Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said the Colorado plan would be an attractive model for broader intuition. She said, especially when higher education is struggling with increasing economic and apartheid and disproportionate student loan debt burdens, those who are already at the lower end of the socioeconomic class.

“I think it is important that we can now reimagine higher education in an important way to try to solve this fair task because of COVID-19,” she said. “This is a method.”

Given its eligibility requirements, she does not expect community colleges to oppose Colorado’s model. Rather, it creates a pathway for students who do not see the completion of an undergraduate course.

“I know a man, because his parents passed away, he had to take a few credits… and he has four brothers and sisters who need to take care of others,” Pasquerella said. “This is a way for colleges and universities to deal with students who are unable to complete due to their own fault. [their degree]This shows that the success of an organization is inseparable from the well-being of the people in its community. “

However, Davis Jenkins, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, expressed doubts about whether Colorado’s initiative would have the market impact that state leaders hoped. He said that research has shown that associate degrees in general studies do not have much economic value. He said that while it is a good thing that the program restricts courses that count towards associate degrees, he said, “You don’t see employers hiring students who have completed their sophomore courses. That’s basically it.”

“If I provide advice to Colorado lawmakers, I would say it is most valuable to the labor market and continuing education, if it is for a coherent project or part of a project,” Jenkins said. “If it is only more than 70 credits of a general course, it will not have a strong enough labor market value, and students may need to take more credits to transfer to the professional field of interest.”

On the contrary, he said, two-year degrees in the fields of science, business, healthcare, and social and behavioral sciences can provide students with a return on investment.According to Jenkins, the best models are those that have a strong transfer relationship between universities and community colleges, such as Reverse transmission program Students obtain an associate degree by completing the university degree requirements.

Regarding the Colorado project, Jenkins said, “I suspect that one motivation is to increase their completion numbers. If these degrees do not benefit students, then you are just playing the numbers game.”

In his view, four-year universities considering an associate degree can learn from the successful practice of the institution that knows them best: community colleges.

“I would rather see four years, if they do this forward-looking, design an associate degree that gives students the skills to find a job, stop, maybe take a break before they finish their junior or senior year,” Jenkins said . “The best transfer program for community colleges is structured like this.”

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