College & Career Persistence
Our goal is for adults in Summit County to earn 48,000 new college degrees or high-value career certificates by 2025. If we can reach this goal, Summit County, Ohio, will be among the most educated counties in the U.S. We have three strategies in our college & career persistence work:
Recruit adults with college experience to return and earn a degree, in partnership with local employers. According to U.S. Census data, adults with advanced degrees or career credentials earn higher wages and have better job security. There are added benefits for employers as well. According to a recent national study sponsored by Lumina Foundation, every dollar spent toward tuition reimbursement saves corporations $1.29 in talent management costs. We are working with employers to identify adults who are ready to earn degrees or certificates beyond the high school diploma and advance their careers. We are also working with higher education partners to recruit adult students into high-demand fields.
Award retroactive associate degrees to adults who did not complete a bachelor’s degree program. We estimate there are over 29,000 adults in Summit County between the ages of 25 and 64 who completed at least one year of college coursework but never earned a degree. Through degree audits, our higher education partners at Kent State University, Stark State College and The University of Akron will work to determine whether any of those adults earned enough credits to qualify for an associate or technical degree. Awarding retroactive or “reverse” degrees is a great way to help working adults expand their career options and increase their earning potential.
Strengthen the transition from high school to post-secondary enrollment. High Schools, colleges and universities all do their best to support students when they are enrolled. But many students can get lost during the transition from high school to college. We are working with local high schools and higher education partners to fortify the bridge between high school and college. In 2016, we piloted a program where higher education partners held a “pre-orientation” for accepted students right in their own high schools. As we strengthen the transition from high school to higher education, we know more students will meet with success.