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Getting to Graduation: Helping Utah’s Students Finish What They Started

Published on December 18, 2014 by Karen Newmeyer

By Ryan Farley, campus director

Imagine you finally muster the time, energy and resources to once again pursue finishing your college degree, only to be told you’ll need to repeat or retake classes you previously completed. Your graduation date is now pushed into the unforseeable future, and you’ll be spending thousands of extra dollars in tuition.

For many Utahns, they don’t need to merely imagine this scenario because it actually happened to them, leaving them disheartened, discouraged and demotivated — or worse yet, not completing their degree at all.

The Utah Foundation recently released a new report, sponsored by Education First and Prosperity 2020, indicating that approximately half of all students in Utah who enroll in programs after high school don’t complete their degree or certificate. The percentage of Utahns who identify themselves as having “some college credit” but no degree is among the highest in the nation.

The report identified many worthy objectives to help increase completion rates, but did not address one of the major barriers to degree completion in Utah: transfer credit policies that have failed to keep pace with rapid advancements in higher education.

The education world has changed. Today’s mobile students may earn academic credit at three or four different schools, attend nontraditional colleges, earn credit via accredited online institutions or complete industry-specific certification and trainings.

And yet many institutions continue to insist on only accepting academic credits from institutions that are regionally accredited. This policy can be extremely frustrating for students who choose to earn credits at nationally accredited schools. (It’s also worth noting that the “regionally accredited” policy violates CHEA’s Joint Statement on Transfer and Award of Academic Credit.)

The time has come for a systemic revamp of transfer credit policies among the state’s higher learning institutions.

Broadview University, which operates five campuses — four in Utah and one in Idaho — is one such school with a progressive, forward-thinking approach to transfer credit.

The overriding theme at Broadview: students pay once and attend once for college credit. In the past five years, over 34,000 credits were accepted from 459 other regionally and nationally accredited colleges, as well as all five branches of the military. This saved the average student $9,750 in tuition and six months in class time!

Additionally, options are offered for testing out of course material previously mastered, credit for work experience, prior learning assessments and a new Cooperative Learning Partnership allowing students to earn credit while simultaneously gaining work experience.

Now that’s helping Utah’s students finish what they started!

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