As President Obama
continues to encourage community colleges to graduate 5 million more students by the year 2020, more and more institutions are finding creative ways to strengthen their student graduation rate
. One such institution, Ivy Tech Community College
in Indiana, will be piloting a program this fall to help students earn their associate's degree in a fraction of the time.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education
, Ivy Tech will introduce a program that allows students to earn an associate's degree
in just one year. Typically, this degree takes a minimum of two years to complete, thus the new program essentially shaves 50% off the standard time commitment for an associate’s.
The college will provide the option at two campuses this fall: their locations at Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. While the initial major options will be somewhat limited, the school hopes that a successful test run will mean additional options for the one-year program in the future.
The announcement by Ivy Tech comes on the heels of many four-year institutions attempting to compress a bachelor's degree into a three-year curriculum. According to CTI Career Search
, the following universities will be experimenting with three-year degree options:
· Arcadia University
· University of North Carolina at Greensboro
· Georgia Southwestern State University
While these colleges will begin their three-year programs this fall, Ivy Tech appears to be the only community college that will launch a one-year degree program at the same time. All of these introductions are meant to help students who cannot afford a standard college education by cutting the time in school and making the entire process more affordable.
Requirements for Admission
This year, Ivy Tech plans to start small with their one-year pilot program. The initial launch will consist of three groups of 12-20 students: one at the Fort Wayne campus studying health care support
, one at Indianapolis to focus on general studies, and the other to earn a degree in computer information systems. Classes will be conducted Monday through Friday, with eight hours of class time on four of the days and a free day for field trips and additional studies.
Students admitted into the program must show potential for strong academic achievement and a financial need. Paula J. Birt, director of the program, told The Chronicle, "We're targeting students who are bright kids, but for socioeconomic reasons do not see themselves as being successful in college." Eligible students must currently be enrolled in the free or reduced-lunch program in high school. Students admitted into the program will receive financial aid in the form of a Pell Grant
to pay for tuition
and even a weekly stipend.
More about the Project
The one-year project is backed by a $2.3-million grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education and a $270,000 grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. In addition to helping students get into college who wouldn't be able to afford to attend otherwise, the program is also designed to improve graduation rates among community college students, which currently stands at about 25%.
Teresa S. Lubbers, Indiana commissioner for higher education, told The Chronicle, "We're trying to dramatically increase the number of students who are succeeding in college. We need it for Indiana's economy and we need it to improve the lives of Hoosiers." However, it won't be easy for students, who will be completing the same coursework in a fraction of the time. Ivy Tech hopes that ample support from faculty and staff will keep students on track for a 100% graduation rate.
Ivy Tech Community College
is the fastest growing institution of higher education in Indiana. The college also touts itself as the state's largest workforce training provider. The college focuses on high-priority fields to keep Indiana's economy strong, such as:
· Health care
· Advanced Manufacturing
· Life Sciences
Students admitted into the one-year associate's degree program will receive training and education specifically designed to prepare them for the workforce – in both the fields of health care and information systems.
Other Programs in the Works?
While Ivy Tech may be the first community college in the country to try out the one-year program, there may be others not far behind. A posting at Best Colleges Online says, "Currently, one-year associates degrees are pretty limited to specific fields, but the next few years will probably witness a shift from the two-year program to the one-year program." As the focus shifts from merely earning a degree to getting out into the workforce as quickly as possible, it stands to reason that one-year degree options may very well be the wave of the future.
In the meantime, colleges and businesses will be closely watching Ivy Tech to see how their program develops later this fall.