Roughly 100,000 students have attended the University of Arkansas (UA) System within the last seven years without earning a degree.
Now, the system is trying to get them back on track, writes Aziza Musa for ArkansasOnline.
Donald Bobbitt, president of the UA System, says the state's public colleges can do more to increase degree attainment among the state's adult population. Arkansas consistently ranks low when it comes to degree attainment compared with the rest of the country, writes Musa.
But a recent push in Arkansas to have a better educated and more affluent workforce has the UA system targeting those 100,000 students by getting them back into college, either on campus or online. Michael Moore, UA system's vice president of academic affairs, calls this an economic issue.
The UA system began sending emails from its president and chancellor, which encouraged students to return and complete their degree. It also offered the system's online learning platform, eVersity, as an alternative to in-person education.
A similar effort has begun in Indiana. The state has successfully recruited 9,000 adults to return to school, writes Musa. But that is only a fraction of the 750,000 adults in the state who left college without a credential. Indiana has committed $7.5 million in state grants to support these adults.
In addition, Tennessee provides grants, deferred payment plans, and adult orientation programming for returning adult learners. The program, called Reconnect, has sent 50,000 push cards to promote the program, writes Musa. The state has even placed advertisements on television, radio, and billboards.
The bottom line, says Moore, is to act early to bring students back. "If I don't get you back in three months, it's going to be hard. If I don't get you back in six months, it's even harder. If I don't get you back in two years, it's really, really hard," says Moore (Musa, ArkansasOnline, 6/26).
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