Are you one of the fifth of adults ages 25-64 who have started college but never finished?

According to a report, "Close But No Degree" released today by the Rutgers Center for Women and Work, inexpensive policy changes can enable the state's agencies and colleges to improve college completion rates.

“An educated workforce is important to New Jersey’s economic viability,” says Heather McKay,
co-author of the report and director of CWW’s Innovative Training and Workforce Development
Research and Programs.

"Close, But No Degree" advocates for better integration of higher education opportunities into the state workforce development system. For example, the report recommends expanding an existing policy that helps workers receiving unemployment insurance gain college credit.

Other recommendations include:

  • Improving a 2007 law designed to facilitate the move from community colleges to New Jersey public four-year colleges and universities so that credit transfer is more seamless.
  • Identifying students poised to complete college, specifically those who lack 12 credits or less (near-completers) and provide them with flexible options and support services, such as online learning and counseling.
  • Developing a formal collaboration between the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Higher Education.
  • Providing assistance to help students succeed in degree programs, including strong case management and alternative routes to earning college credit, such as conferring credit for work experience.
  • Identifying mechanisms to fund tuition and programs for adult students based on need.

“When workers have invested so much in degrees they were unable to finish, it makes good policy and financial sense to devise solutions that help them achieve their goals,” says Elizabeth Nisbet, CWW Postdoctoral Research Associate.

Check back on NJ1015.com tomorrow morning for a fully-developed version of this story.