College Completion Must Be Our Priority declares an “open letter” from the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment. “All the communities have come together — community colleges, research institutions, public universities and small liberal arts colleges — and reached agreement that completion needs to be our most important priority,” said E. Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State and chair of the commission.
Almost half of students who enroll in a two- or four-year institution fail to earn a degree in six years, notes the New York Times.
(The report) calls on colleges and universities to find ways to give students credit for previous learning, through exams like the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program, portfolio assessments or other college equivalency evaluations. It also calls for more services and flexibility for nontraditional students, suggesting innovations like midnight classes, easier credit transfers and more efficient course delivery, including online classes.
Colleges and universities must adapt to students’ needs, said Molly C. Broad, president of the American Council on Education.
“We have policies and practices built when colleges were filled with full-time, 18- to 22-year-old students who needed to be provided not only educational opportunities, but fed, protected, counseled and given recreation,” she said. “But that’s not our world today, when the overwhelming majority are part-time students juggling jobs, older students, veterans, whom we need to treat fairly — and do it on our own rather than have it done unto us.”
A second report, The American Dream 2.0, warned that borrowers who don’t graduate are “plunged underwater financially.” The report suggests “making the financial aid application process simpler and more transparent, and holding both schools and students accountable for completion,” reports the Times.