Thursday, the Higher Education Appropriations Committee discussed my idea of the Most-Affordable Pathway to a college degree (MAP Degrees). As outlined here, the MAP Degrees would combine high school concurrent enrollment, a New Century Scholarship ($1,250/semester for college students who complete their associates degree while in high school), and 2 years of residential college. Utah residents could obtain a college degree for $3,000 to $10,000 (depending on the state institution they choose to attend).
Yes, you read that right. High-quality college degrees for a TOTAL COST of $3,000 to $10,000.
I chose the acronym MAP for good reason. Utah parents and students need better direction regarding affordable higher education options. We have great concurrent enrollment options. We have relatively low tuition rates. And we have decent (though not great) alignment and coordination between our institutions. The pieces are in place. We just need Utah colleges to align courses a little better and communicate the Most-Affordable Pathways to parents and students. Many families that now think college is not affordable will realize they can afford it. And, many students who think they have to go to school part-time (a completion killer) will realize that they can hunker down and quickly complete.
Stan Jones, visionary head of Complete College America, tells a story about jam, to emphasize the connection between simple options and college success. Stan compares 2 tables selling jam at a fair. One table has 20 options. Those options attract a huge crowd. The other table has 5 options. It has a much smaller crowd all day. But, the second table sells twice as much, because people are not frozen into inaction by the plentiful options. I’ve talked with plenty of people who went sideways in college pursuing various options, because they lacked a clear pathway to completion. Also, check out the comments to my earlier post, where involved mothers mention their inability to determine which concurrent enrollment courses will count toward bachelor’s degrees.
If Most-Affordable Pathway Degrees are created and marketed, higher education quickly becomes a reality for many, many people. Utah’s goal is to have 66% of the adult population obtain higher education degrees or certificates. MAP Degrees make that goal much more obtainable. I look forward to working with the Governor, Commissioner Buhler, the individual institutions, and the many concerned individuals and groups that care about higher education issues, to develop the MAP Degrees. A great place to affect meaningful change is to start with the successful pieces that already are in place.
(And, because these discussions can get sidetracked by fictions, let me mention that I’m not talking about limiting options or changing delivery modes for any of the courses. We will simply highlight the most-affordable pathways to get college degrees, using the same concurrent enrollment and college courses we currently offer.).