Wilson Enters Agreement with HACC
Wilson College and HACC, "Central Pennsylvania's Community College," recently signed an expanded agreement allowing HACC associate degree graduates to seamlessly enter Wilson, bringing all of their credits earned with a grade of C or better with them.
The agreement is a win for both institutions and their students, while contributing to efforts to increase educational attainment in Pennsylvania, according to Wilson President Barbara K. Mistick. She said the agreement with HACC is a step toward improving access to Wilson’s bachelor’s degree offerings for community college graduates.
“It’s a way for us to partner with the community college to create pathways for students who want to come to Wilson,” Mistick said. “We want to make it easy.”
A national and state movement to increase postsecondary educational attainment–the number of Americans who hold degrees and other high-quality credentials–is underway. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has set a goal of 60 percent of the state’s residents earning an associate or bachelor’s degree, or high-value certificate, by 2025. In 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, only 43.8 percent of Pennsylvanians had reached that level of attainment, a report from the Lumina Foundation states.
Meanwhile, the demand for workers with degrees or advanced training is growing, even in times of low unemployment. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, two-thirds of all jobs created in this decade will require some form of postsecondary education, while only about 40 percent of adults in the U.S. currently have achieved that level of education.
“Jobs are getting more complicated and that’s why Pennsylvania is working toward a goal of 60 percent with a postsecondary degree by 2025,” Mistick said. “One of the ways for Wilson to participate in that effort is through partnerships or collaborations with community colleges and even high schools.”
The benefits of higher levels of education extend not only to employers, but more significantly, to students. “The data are clear: a college degree is key to economic opportunity, conferring substantially higher earnings on those with credentials than those without,” according to The College Payoff: Education, Occupations Lifetime Earnings, a report on lifetime earnings by level of education published by the Georgetown center.
Drawing from U.S. Census Bureau data, the report outlines the increased earning potential over the course of a lifetime, with an associate degree holder earning, on average, $423,000 more than a person with only a high school diploma, and a bachelor’s degree yielding an average of $541,000 more than an associate degree.
“People with bachelor’s degrees earn nearly $1 million more than high school graduates over their lifetime, have a lower unemployment rate and they’re happier,” said Mistick. “With these kinds of partnerships with other institutions, Wilson College is responding to workforce needs while helping more students create a path to a bachelor’s degree, knowing that degree is going to deliver to them (a higher income over their lifetimes).”
Under Wilson’s articulation agreement with HACC, qualified associate degree graduates are guaranteed admission to Wilson with full junior status. Students who identify their desire to continue at Wilson while working toward their associate degree will be connected with Wilson’s advising resources and have their application fee waived.
The two colleges have shared their curricula and academic requirements, and are working to strengthen organization and planning between the institutions to ensure a smooth transition and positive student experience.
A scholarship for HACC students enrolling at Wilson is also in the works, officials said.
“Collaboration with academic programs, student services, mentoring and athletics are just a few of the benefits that will come from this agreement,” said Wilson Vice President for Enrollment David Boisvert. “This partnership will encourage collaboration, opening opportunities that otherwise would not be possible without an agreement in place. We’re excited.”
Wilson is looking to forge similar agreements with other community colleges to improve access to Wilson’s bachelor’s degree offerings for those college’s graduates, according to Mistick. “This creates a template for us that we think is replicable with other community colleges,” she said.
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