Helping 36 Million Former Students Complete Their Education in New Ways
Credential As You Go — New Opportunity for People with Some College, No Degree
It is not uncommon for college students to start and then stop somewhere along the way to receiving a degree. Many, however, return to continue pursuing their education at some point after they opted out. Over a five-year period, almost one million of these “Some College, No Degree” students found their way back to school, according to National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
But the opportunity is much more significant. There are 36 million Americans who have some level of postsecondary education but are no longer enrolled. While most are unlikely to re-enroll in the same institution they previously attended, most are likely to return to a school in the same state—most commonly local community colleges.
Bringing Students Back into the Fold
Opportunities exist for schools to reach out to the “Some College, No Degree” population to bring them back and help them complete their degrees. The most likely among them to do so are “potential completers”—those who have at least two years’ of schooling under their belts. This group is more likely to re-enroll and finish college.
Finding these students is obviously a first step for schools interested in not only boosting their enrollment but playing an important role in helping students complete their educations. But how to find them?
To help colleges, universities, state education departments, and school boards address the challenge, the Clearinghouse is leading a pilot project to assess how data and insights may help re-enroll former students. The pilot intends to identify the potential learners with the ability to obtain credentials, competencies, and skills to improve their future earning potential. The Clearinghouse recently convened more than 30 colleges and universities participating in the pilot to further discuss helpful possibilities.
But not all students are prepared for, or interested in, completing their education in traditional ways or typical settings. Fortunately, for them, there may soon be other options.
New Ways of Thinking
For some students who opted out of traditional college settings, other options may prove more appealing. That is the thinking behind Credential As You Go – a move toward recognizing the value of credentials that are outside of the traditional four-year college system.
As EdSurge reports, this new initiative is designed to change this traditional way of thinking to make it not only possible but “easier for students and workers to earn recognition for their learning—in increments smaller than the colossal college degree.”
Vanessa Brown, the Clearinghouse’s Deputy Chief Data Officer, recently joined the National Advisory Board of Credential As You Go. She said, “students are learning in so many ways inside and outside of the classroom that employers need to know. It is valuable now and in the future for students’ learning and employment records to show all their knowledge and skills that communicate their expertise. This creates a win-win for students and employers.”
It is an opportunity that holds benefits not only for those who have yet to complete their formal degrees, but also for those who may choose to gain additional knowledge and education to help them address new workplace needs. The pace of change is brisk these days, fueled not only by technology, but also by the impacts of the pandemic and shifts in the economic environment worldwide.
These changes require new skills and competencies. But many employees don’t have the time or inclination to pursue an extensive degree program.
The Credential As You Go initiative is exploring new options that can help ensure employees stay abreast of changes in their industry and employers’ changing needs. It is an option that has the potential to hold appeal for many and offer much-needed alternatives to a traditional system that doesn’t meet everyone’s needs.
“It is valuable now and in the future for students’ learning and employment records to show all their knowledge and skills that communicates their expertise. This creates a win-win for students and employers.”
Deputy Chief Data Officer, National Student Clearinghouse