Kent State Ashtabula to Automatically Award Associate Degrees to Students Who Complete Requirements
Kent State University’s seven Regional Campuses, including Kent State Ashtabula, will begin automatically awarding associate degrees to bachelor’s degree-seeking students who have completed all requirements for either an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science degree.
“They earned it, so we’re awarding the degree,” said Wanda Thomas, associate provost and dean of the Regional College. “Awarding an associate degree as soon as it is earned ensures that a Kent State regional student will have a college degree, even if something happens and they are unable to complete their bachelor’s degree program.”
To qualify, a Regional Campus student must be currently enrolled, be taking at least one class this semester at a Regional Campus, have completed or be currently enrolled in courses that meet the requirements of an associate of arts or associate of science degree, and have not already been awarded an associate degree elsewhere. So far, more than 1,600 students system-wide have been identified as possibly meeting the criteria. Approximately 60 of those students attend Kent State Ashtabula. The records of these students are now being reviewed. Those who have met the requirements for an associate degree – typically around 60 semester hours of coursework – will soon receive both an email and a letter letting them know of their accomplishment and that they will be awarded the degree this semester.
Students attending the university’s Kent Campus, at this time, are not included in this automatic award initiative.
According to 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, workers with an associate degree earn, on average, $126 more per week than a worker with a high school diploma and $50 more per week than a worker with some college credit but no degree.
“Students attending a Regional Campus are more likely to enroll part-time and are more likely to take breaks in enrollment due to family obligations, finances and employment,” Thomas said. “This degree-awarding initiative will greatly benefit these students. Their college transcript will acknowledge that they have already completed at least half of a bachelor degree and it may enable them to work at a higher wage. Should they be unable to return to complete their bachelor’s degree for any reason, they will still have a college degree to show for the time and effort they have invested at Kent State.”
This associate degree-awarding initiative is consistent with best practices recommended by the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Research funded by the Lumina Foundation showed that students who earn an associate degree are 30 percent more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree. The hope for local students is that the excitement and sense of achievement from earning an associate degree will encourage them to continue on their path to earning a bachelor’s degree, as well.
Victoria Watson, a sophomore communications major attending Kent State University at Ashtabula, said that she would be “thrilled” to have Kent State automatically award an associate degree once she has earned the degree.
“It would motivate me to keep going for my bachelor’s degree because I would have a sense of accomplishment for the work that I have already completed,” Watson said.
Kent State Ashtabula students will soon be informed if they have earned an associate degree via their campus e-mail account and by direct mail. Any Kent State Ashtabula students with questions about the degree award should contact their academic advisor at 440-964-4217.
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