The University of Central Oklahoma hopes to increase the number of Oklahomans with college degrees with help from a recently awarded grant of $251,596 from TG, a public, nonprofit corporation based in Round Rock, Texas. The funds will support expansion of the university’s Operation Degree Completion program, a graduation initiative that has resulted in more than 650 bachelor’s degree graduates since Central started the program two years ago.
Because of the grant, the program will now assist in the completion of associate’s degrees through partnerships with community colleges.
“In three years, we expect 2,292 new associate's and bachelor's degree graduates through this program. Additionally, our hope is to set up an easy-to-follow template for other university and community college partnerships. If it is successful, it has the potential to change degree completion efforts throughout the country,” said Jay Corwin, Ph.D., associate vice president of Enrollment Management and project director. “This program is truly on the cutting edge and we believe it will spread very rapidly.”
The degree completion program identifies students who are not currently enrolled but may be very close to completing their degree. Academic advisers then reach out to these students to help them take the final steps toward their diploma. Corwin said there are several hundred people who meet these criteria at Central, as well as at universities and community colleges nationally.
The grant will fund part-time advisers at partnering community colleges, including Rose State College, Oklahoma City Community College, and Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City. The advisers will review students who transfer to Central before obtaining their associate’s degrees to determine whether their Central courses can transfer back to fulfill graduation requirements for a degree from the community college. This “reverse transfer” process has already resulted in more than 150 degrees this year.
The advisers provide additional benefit to students by offering a unique combination of recruitment, personalized advisement and streamlined admissions. They work to design an individualized approach to help meet a student’s specific academic and personal needs.
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“Sometimes, students are unsure about how to begin the process of returning to school to finish their degrees, so we guide them through the process, help them set up their student account, select courses and enroll,” added Glenda Todd, senior academic adviser for the Operation Degree Completion program.
“We offer encouragement, provide strategies for student success, and help students overcome barriers – academic, financial or personal – which previously prevented them from completing their degrees.”
Central is one of 29 institutions in the country to receive a TG grant in 2012 from a pool of nearly 340 applications.
To ask questions about the Operation Degree Completion program, contact Corwin at (405) 974-2348 or firstname.lastname@example.org.