col­lege pro­grams

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

AT­LANTA (AP) — Ge­or­gia ed­u­ca­tion officials launched a new cam­paign Tues­day en­cour­ag­ing adults who started but never earned a col­lege de­gree to fin­ish. Those peo­ple are es­sen­tial to meet­ing the state’s am­bi­tious goals for more res­i­dents with post-high school ed­u­ca­tion and to the state’s econ­omy long term.

Ac­cord­ing to a pro­jec­tion by na­tional non­profit Com­plete Col­lege Amer­ica, 61 per­cent of jobs in Ge­or­gia will re­quire ed­u­ca­tion past high school by 2020. But about 1.1 mil­lion Ge­or­gians be­tween 25 and 64 have some col­lege credit but no de­gree or cer­tifi­cate in the lat­est U.S. Cen­sus re­sults.

The chal­lenge for Ge­or­gia’s tech­ni­cal col­leges and state uni­ver­si­ties is first reach­ing those stu­dents and then pro­vid­ing the sup­port they need to earn a cer­tifi­cate or a diploma.

The “Go Back Move Ahead” cam­paign an­nounced Tues­day cre­ates a call cen­ter po­ten­tial stu­dents can con­tact for a re­fer­ral to a spe­cific cam­pus. From there, cam­pus staff have to form a sup­port sys­tem for re­turn­ing stu­dents, said Hous­ton Davis, vice chan­cel­lor for aca­demic af­fairs at the Univer­sity Sys­tem of Ge­or­gia.

Each cam­pus in the state univer­sity sys­tem and tech­ni­cal col­lege sys­tem has as­signed a point person for re­turn­ing stu­dents. They plan to em­pha­size flex­i­ble class sched­ules or help stu­dents find cam­pus satel­lite lo­ca­tions and on­line op­tions.

“A mar­ket­ing cam­paign is a shiny ob­ject to catch at­ten­tion,” Davis said. “What’s re­ally im­por­tant is that we are able to serve that stu­dent.”

At a news con­fer­ence Tues­day an­nounc­ing the pro­gram, two stu­dents who re­turned to higher ed­u­ca­tion as adults in Ge­or­gia en­cour­aged oth­ers to try it. Mark Smith be­gan classes at Val­dosta State Univer­sity “as a 45-year-old fresh­man” af­ter a ca­reer in the Air Force. He wasn’t cer­tain he had the tech­ni­cal or aca­demic skills to com­plete a de­gree pro­gram.

Smith, who now works for the univer­sity as an adult ad­mis­sions coun­selor, said the stu­dent suc­cess cen­ter pro­vided tu­tors and other ser­vices that helped him fin­ish.

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