By 2020, 61 percent of jobs will require a career certificate or college degree. However, only 34 percent of Georgia adults currently have an associate degree or higher, according to Complete College Georgia.
Further research shows that from 1970 to the mid-2000s, while the number of students enrolled in college increased, the number of degrees awarded stayed the same. Essentially, there was a large influx of students entering higher education who did not earn their degrees. However, many students did earn enough credits to qualify for an associate degree.
Complete College America was created to increase the number of degrees awarded to individuals across the nation. In 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal announced the state of Georgia would be a part of Complete College America and authorized the University System of Georgia to lead the charge for the state.
In 2012, the University System created Complete College Georgia. Part of Augusta University’s initial involvement in the Complete College Georgia initiative was the creation of a partnership with East Georgia State College to provide access to higher education for those individuals who do not meet the requirements to begin at a research university.
In fall 2015, there were approximately 500 students enrolled at the East Georgia Augusta campus. Additionally, this fall 60-70 students transferred from East Georgia to Augusta. The partnership between the two institutions allows for students to transfer from East Georgia to Augusta prior to completing an associate degree.
The partnership with East Georgia creates a unique situation on the Augusta campuses.
As a research university, Augusta no longer awards Associate of Arts or Associate of Sciences degrees to students. A natural growth in the partnership then was to allow students who transferred to Augusta prior to earning an associate degree to reverse transfer back to East Georgia to earn their associate degree if they had not yet finished a degree at either institution.
“We are one of the only institutions with a formal partnership with a state college like East Georgia,” said Dr. Adam Wyatt, associate vice president for academic affairs and student success. “We have many individuals who started at a state college like East Georgia and transferred to a larger university like Augusta University, but never finished. So, what we’ve been doing is reviewing transcripts to see which students may qualify for an associate’s degree from East Georgia and then notifying them of this opportunity.”
Those students who attended or now attend Augusta and who qualify may send their transcripts to East Georgia. The transcripts will then be evaluated by East Georgia, and a student who meets all necessary requirements will be awarded an associate degree. Finally, updated transcripts will be sent back to Augusta University with a notation that the student received an associate degree.
East Georgia will award the first reverse transfer associate degrees in December, and the program will continue indefinitely.
Wyatt is excited about the implications that may result from awarding Augustans with hard-earned degrees.
“If you earn an associate degree, you have more earning power than if you have just a high school diploma,” he said.
He believes preparing students for the workforce is important.
“Educational access and completion are big concerns of mine,” Wyatt said. “Companies look for an educated workforce. The more educated workforce we have in the area the more likely we are to get high-tech industries and large companies coming to the area. This initiative is only going to help provide that educated workforce for this region.”
For more information about reverse transfer associate degrees, contact Dr. Wyatt at 706-446-1422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.