Colleges look to boost grad rates
From the The Brunswick News
Gov. Nathan Deal wants to boost the college graduation rate in Georgia and is putting up $72.5 million to make it happen.
Funds will be doled out statewide as part of the Complete College Georgia initiative.
Currently, 42 percent of the adult workforce in Georgia has graduated with either a technical or four-year degree. Deal would like to raise that rate to 60 percent by 2020.
College of Coastal Georgia President Valerie Hepburn is on board with that. She said improving college completion rates will increase the competitiveness of both Georgia and the rest of the nation.
"We are, as a nation, below most industrialized nations in college credentialed adult workforce," Hepburn said.
Countries like Japan and Korea already have working adult populations where 60 percent of the people have completed college educations, Hepburn said.
While more than 40 percent of the state's adult workforce has completed college, just 32 percent of the adult workforce has completed college in southeast Georgia, she said.
"We are really trying to bridge both a workforce gap and a think force gap," Hepburn said. "The magnitude and rapidity of change -- including economic globalization, scientific and technological advances, and geopolitical challenges -- make higher education absolutely critical, not just for our region and state, but for our nation."
Bridging the gap will mean ensuring all students, traditional and non-traditional, have what they need to finish.
"If you start and don't finish all you have done is waste time," Hepburn said.
Altamaha Technical College will also play a role in developing a more robust and well-educated workforce, according to the technical college's president, Lorette Hoover.
"The reality is that employers need a skilled workforce," Hoover said. "Even though we have a pretty good graduation rate, we want to keep improving it."
Altamaha Tech opened its Glynn County campus, sharing classroom space at Golden Isles Career Academy, three years ago.
Since then, Hoover said the college has increased the number of students it graduates and hopes that continues.
By 2020, Hoover hopes to see a graduating class of more than 700. Hoover said keeping students in school who find jobs before graduation will be key to reaching that goal.
"We have a lot of students who get hired before they graduate, which is great," Hoover said. "But we have to make sure they stay in school until they graduate."
|Release Date: 6/13/2012|
Source: The Brunswick News
|By MICHAEL HALL|