Validating earned credentials

By Saint Paul College

Students balance many competing demands and obligations that often impact their educational progress. Life circumstances change and students are often forced to reprioritize family, work and school obligations. Unfortunately, some students end schooling abruptly and leave earned credentials behind, resulting in a loss of value for the time they invested in the classroom.

Saint Paul College in Minnesota is taking proactive steps to address this problem and equip students with the credentials they earned during their time at school.

In 2021, Saint Paul College worked with the Institute of Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and participated in the nationwide Degrees When Due initiative to contact students who have earned 45 credits or more but have not received a degree. This program has already resulted in more than 70 students being conferred a degree at Saint Paul College, and still counting.

During this outreach, staff has found that many students already had the 60 credits needed for an Associate of Arts (AA) degree, but it went unawarded, until now.

With today’s workforce often requiring a two-year degree for new employees, this can be a missed opportunity for some. Other students who are just short on their credits are re-energized to return and complete the necessary credits to earn their degree. These earned credentials are also critical for students who want to transfer onto a bachelor’s degree, whether now or sometime in the future.

President Deidra Peaslee shares that “the impact of this program on our students’ lives is incredible!”

According to the May IHEP Report based on this initiative, more than 36 million Americans have some college credit but have not been awarded a degree. Three million of these students have completed at least two years of college coursework. The IHEP study shows that of the students who were awarded degrees through this initiative, half were students of color, 46% were students from low-income backgrounds, and 52% were women.

“Promoting equity in degree attainment requires meeting students where they are, recognizing where the system has failed them, and doing the work to not only reenroll but to engage students and support them across the degree finish line,” said IHEP President and CEO Mamie Voight.

Degrees When Due is an initiative across 23 states at more than 200 colleges and universities dedicated to reconnecting students for a better life. These goals go hand in hand with Saint Paul College’s recently updated mission and vision to advance racial equity and empower students to reach their full potential.

This article originally appeared here.

Saint Paul College

is a community and technical college located in St. Paul, Minnesota.