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October 27, 2013

If bachelors degree elusive, associate degree is fallback

LANSING — A new agreement between Grand Valley State University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College will make it easier for four-year students to obtain an associate degree.

Reverse transfer allows students who do not complete a four-year degree to receive an associate degree for their completed credits at local institutions.

“There is such high value in a student having an associate degree,” said Olin Joynton, president of Alpena Community College. “When a student transfers to a four-year university and is not able to complete that degree, reverse transfer allows them evidence of completion of a degree.”

Alpena currently has agreements with Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University and others.

Many students start at community colleges and transfer to four-year universities without receiving their associate degree, according to Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association.

The recent agreement by Grand Valley is one of 25 it has in with Michigan community colleges.

“Students need to have a degree to get a good job,” Hansen said.

Allowing students to receive a diploma for the credits they earned will help them in the job market, Hansen said.

“Kirtland is very appreciative of the support it receives from state universities,” said Thomas Quinn, president of Kirtland Community College in Roscommon. Kirtland receives notifications from universities around the state when students are reverse transferring their credits.

“It is beneficial to the student’s credentials and to the state when a person is receiving a degree,” Quinn said. “It greatly improves our graduation rates because these programs are in place.”

Other universities around the state like University of Michigan-Dearborn have similar arrangements with community colleges.

Grand Valley is requiring students to complete 45 credits at Kalamazoo Valley Community College to obtain the associate degree. Its partners include Northwestern Michigan College, Alpena Community College and West Shore Community College.

STEPHEN INGBER writes for Michigan State University’s Capital News Service.

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