May 6, 2010
Community colleges in Indiana and Wisconsin are breaking new ground with degrees that are aimed to address the needs of specific populations.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the Ivy Tech Community College system in Indiana will begin offering a one-year associate degree this August at two of its campuses, in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. The program aims to enroll low-income students and improve degree completion rates for community college students. Currently, only about one-quarter of students who enroll in two-year institutions actually graduate with associate degrees.
"We're trying to dramatically increase the number of students who are succeeding in college," said Teresa S. Lubbers, Indiana's commissioner for higher education, who was quoted by the Chronicle. "We need it for Indiana's economy, and we need it to improve the lives of Hoosiers."
The initiative comes as other institutions are just beginning to offer three-year degrees to help cut college costs. Some schools that have announced three-year programs slated to begin this fall include Arcadia University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Georgia Perimeter College and Georgia Southwestern State University.
But the Chronicle points out that the new one-year associate degree at Ivy Tech appears to be the first program of its kind in the nation, and the program's organizers are determined to make sure that those who enroll will have a good chance of succeeding. To be eligible for the program, students must demonstrate financial need and academic prowess.
"We're targeting students who are bright kids but for socioeconomic reasons do not see themselves being successful in college," Paula J. Birt, director of the program, told the Chronicle.
Meanwhile, Inside Higher Ed reports that the University of Wisconsin colleges are asking the state system to allow them to introduce the bachelor of applied arts and sciences (B.A.A.S.) degree--a relatively new degree which focuses more on liberal arts and is aimed at adults who live in rural areas. If the plan is approved, it would be one of the first times that any two-year college offered the degree.
Inside Higher Ed explains that the B.A.A.S. is similar to an associate arts and science degree, but it contains "applied studies" requirements, including courses in global awareness and cognitive problem solving. Students also concentrate in specific areas such as business or information technology.
"It is designed to make sure that adult students would emerge with a solid set of communications skills, great writing, oral skills, and then a great set of critical thinking skills," noted David Wilson, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension, who was interviewed by Inside Higher Ed.
Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff
"Experiment at Ivy Tech: a One-Year Associate Degree," The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 25, 2010, Andrea Fuller
"Applying the Liberal Arts," Inside Higher Ed, May 6, 2010, Dan Moltz