Program to attract new students

Rachel Abbey

Kent State is partnering with Ohio University to increase available higher education opportunities for non-traditional students across the state in a program called “Complete to Compete.”

“We lag behind the state and the nation in terms of bachelor’s completion in Northeast Ohio,” said Pat Book, vice president for regional development.

The two universities will use their regional campuses to serve place- and time-bound students, especially adults with job and family restrictions, Book said.

“Through our combined network of 14 campuses, we can do what other Ohio public universities cannot – supply higher education and student support to a wide geographic area, using existing programs and points of access,” President Carol Cartwright said in a statement.

Kent State and Ohio University will serve students in 33 counties, Book said. Students will be able to choose a major in 12 areas of study, sharing programs that only one of the universities have. Campuses will base their offered courses on demand from that area.

There are more than 300,000 people in these counties with some college education and about 100,000 with an associate degree, Book said.

“About 450,000 people have the potential to finish bachelor’s degrees that would make them more competitive in the job market,” Book said.

The program hopes to increase educational levels and degrees in Ohio, important factors in keeping Ohio economically competitive, according to the press release.

This partnership, the first of its kind in Ohio, will cost each university $1.125 million in the first three years, according to the release.

The program is expected to be self-sufficient after five years, with enough students paying tuition to support the program without additional funding, Book said, and the universities hope to also receive state funding.

Classes will be offered online and through distance learning, as well as face to face, so students can more quickly and easily complete a degree, according to the release. The universities will work together so courses and programs can transfer between campuses, so students don’t get held up that way either.

The partnership is also looking into awarding credit for on-the-job experience and creating programs based on emerging workforce trends, according to the release.

Adult learners prefer a physical place for support, Cartwright said, rather than strictly online. The campus system allows personal advising and counseling to be offered.

“Once they get started, they’re fine,” Book said. “It’s just that initial fear factor that we clearly want them to overcome.”

Cartwright said the program will probably expand to other universities in the future.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected]