Ohio universities to create more three-year degree programs

Megan Wilkinson

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Kent State and all other Ohio public universities will make 10 percent of their college courses become a part of three-year degree programs, according to Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro.

“It’s just knocking off a year of courses, which can save students a serious amount of money,” said John Charlton, deputy director of communications for the Ohio Board of Regents. “What students would be doing is meeting the required number of credit hours in a shorter time span.”

Petro wrote in a press release that students would still be required to complete the same number of credits to graduate. He wrote that he encourages students to earn some college credit while in high school through post-secondary enrollment options program (PSEOP), advanced placement courses, career-technical transfer programs and early college high schools.

“I think that once colleges have three-year degree plans in place, colleges will want to communicate to high school students of early higher education options they can take advantage of,” Charlton said.

1– Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program (PSEOP). This allows high school students to attend college courses while still enrolled in high school.

2– Advanced Placement courses. These are standardized courses taken by high school students that are the same level of difficulties as an undergraduate class.

3– Career-Technical Transfer programs. High school students can take career, skill-based classes that transfer to college credits after graduation.

4– Early College high schools. Students involved in this program have dual enrollment, so that they receive credit for high school and credit for an associate degree.

Colleges in Ohio must have 10 percent of courses meet this standard by 2012, and 60 percent by 2014.

“Obviously some degrees will not be able to be made into three-year degree programs, but many out there can be done in three years,” Charlton said. “This of course depends on each individual program at each university.”

Associate Provost Stephane Booth wrote in an email that Kent State plans to approach this three-year model by identifying programs and colleges that will allow students to graduate in this time frame.

“No program, to my knowledge, has lessened (its) degree requirements,” Booth wrote. “Some programs will be doing this by adding summers to the curriculum.”

Tim Chandler, senior associate provost, said he is unsure of whether three-year degrees will help students academically at Kent State.

“I think we need to be aware of the fact as a nation we’ve been slipping in rankings for how well-educated we are both at high-school levels and beyond,” Chandler said. “Cutting back and shortening a degree, or even condensing it may or may not be a good thing.”

Chandler said he believes the main reason the state wants to push three-year degrees is economics. He said what will make this initiative most cost-effective is if students arrive at Kent State with college credit from high school classes.

Janice Kroeger, associate professor of teaching, learning and curricular studies, said she thinks these expectations are “faulty” for students.

“I fail to see how undergraduates can get professional education that meets state requirements in less than three years,” Kroeger said.

Darla Craiglow, senior entrepreneurship major, said she will graduate a year early this spring because she took post-secondary classes while in high school.

“Most of the classes I took were pretty easy, like psychology and biology,” Craiglow said. “But it was hard to get used to the different atmosphere from high school when in post-secondary. Kent State gives students transitional classes like FYE, and with post-secondary you are just thrown into college classes.”

Craiglow said post-secondary gave her 28.5 credits, and allowed her to complete most of her LER classes.

“I’m glad to be graduating early,” Craiglow said. “But I’m not sure if I’m ready. A lot of people do internships junior year, and I didn’t have that, so I feel behind in that aspect.”

Charlton said though this will only be required at Ohio public institutions, he encourages all colleges to include this pathway if possible.

“I believe this is an opportunity for (students) to complete things more quickly,” Charlton said.

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].