Credit where credit is due

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A reverse degree initiative boosts opportunities for students.

Kentucky’s goal of increasing education attainment by 55,000 postsecondary degrees by 2020 is being helped along by a reverse degree initiative, which just hit a significant milestone.

Since the fall of 2013, the University of Louisville (UofL) and its community college partners — Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC), Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, Owensboro Community and Technical College and Ivy Tech Community College — have awarded 1,000 reverse degrees.

Reverse degrees include associate degrees and certificates. They are awarded by community colleges to former students who have transferred to UofL and earned at least 60 total credit hours, including a minimum of 15 from the community college.

When UofL and JCTC first partnered in 2013 to develop a reverse degree process, UofL institutional research found that more than 1,100 students could benefit. One hundred UofL juniors and seniors were randomly selected from the 1,100 to participate in the pilot initiative. Their JCTC transfer hours ranged from the minimum 15 to as many as 75+.

In December 2013, JCTC conferred six associate degrees. As of this June, 777 former JCTC students received more than 1,000 reverse degrees. Some students were eligible for multiple degrees.
“We all know somebody where life got in the way and it took them longer to complete their bachelor’s degree than you would expect them to,” JCTC President and CEO Ty Handy said at a press conference.  “Most of us tend to think of college as a four-year experience – you’re in, you’re out, you’re on with life – and that is just not the pattern people follow anymore, especially in urban markets like Louisville. This partnership is critical to us because many of these students take longer to finish their degree and that credential gives them an opportunity for better work.”

Data on reverse degree recipients shows that 62 percent go on to graduate from UofL with a bachelor’s degree.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.