Opening the Door to Higher Ed Alternatives

To remain competitive in a global economy, U.S. postsecondary institutions must graduate a higher percentage of their students. Government and organizations at the federal and state levels have invested millions of dollars in the pursuit to increase college completion and many smart people are working on the challenge, but how has that changed the way we run our colleges and universities?  
Ivy Tech Community College is one of several striving to accomplish that goal by minimizing the time it takes to earn a degree. Despite the controversy that has surrounded selected accelerated degree programs, some have boasted graduation rates higher than 50% — far above the national average for traditional associate degree programs. One distinguishing factor is that unlike traditional degree programs, accelerated ones are cohort-based. This means that students enter and exit as a group, and it is easier to advise and support students together. While it is true that not every student who walks through the doors of Ivy Tech has the option to participate in an accelerated program, that is a good thing. Accelerated programs do not work for every student. Even though the program currently is available to only some students at a few of the campuses, the important thing is that we should be open to new options for those students who can succeed in a different academic setting.
When the livelihood of our economy is resting on the hope that postsecondary institutions can try new ideas and work to increase the number of students who walk out with a diploma, it is no time for professors, administrators or policymakers to resist change simply because they fear the unknown.  Instead, we must embrace new ideas and be open to change — or else we merely accept stagnation and support the status quo. 
Inside Higher Ed had the details on “Picking Up the Pace” in a recent story.