Recognizing that many students combine credits from multiple institutions in pursuit of their degrees, Utah policymakers have been seeking to maximize options for earning and transferring credits.
Concurrent enrollment. In 2013-2014, nearly a third of juniors and seniors in Utah high schools participated in concurrent enrollment, i.e. completing diploma requirements while also earning college credits. Ninety-five percent of those concurrent courses were general education requirements (“Do Concurrent Enrollment”), most commonly English 1010, the first in the two-course required writing sequence that is standard across Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) institutions (“Concurrent Enrollment”). USHE data suggests that, statewide, participating students saved $29 million in tuition during the last academic year. They find that students who participate in concurrent enrollment reduce their time to graduation by an average of two semesters; however, low-income students are significantly less likely to participate in these programs than Utah’s high school student population as a whole (“Do Concurrent Enrollment”).
Prior learning assessment. In 2014, USHE received a Department of Education College Access Challenge Grant to partner with the non-profit Council on Adult and Experiential Learning to pilot the Prior Learning Assessment LearningCounts. LearningCounts is an online portfolio assessment service than enables students to earn college credit for learning they have achieved on the job or through other life experience (e.g. work or military experience, volunteer activities, or MOOCs). This program would enable students to begin or reenter college coursework with more accumulated credits, potentially reducing their time to degree completion (“Improving Graduation Rates”).
General Education Transfer Credit. While general education articulation among USHE institutions is determined at the state level, many degree-seeking students in Utah transfer from other states in the region. The Interstate Passport Initiative, spearheaded by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), has created “Passport Blocks” that fulfill lower-division general education requirements at all participating WICHE Passport Institutions. Participating institutions currently include colleges and universities in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, California, Oregon, and Hawaii. All Passport Blocks must meet the following learning outcomes:
- Oral communication
- Written communication
- Quantitative literacy
- Creative arts
- Intercultural knowledge
- Natural and physical sciences
- Information literacy
- Critical thinking
- Teamwork and problem solving
This initiative is intended to ease transfer and shorten time to degree completion. (“Interstate Passport Initiative”).
“Concurrent Enrollment- Students Saving Big on College Costs.” Utah System of Higher Education. 5 Sept 2014. <http://higheredutah.org/students-saving-big-on-college-costs-concurrent-enrollment/>. Accessed 10 March 2015.
“Do Concurrent Enrollment Courses Impact College Participation and Completion?” Utah System of Higher Education. 4 March 2015. <http://higheredutah.org/do-concurrent-enrollment-courses-impact-college-participation-and-completion/>. Accessed 10 March 2015.
“Improving Graduation Rates at Utah’s Public Colleges and Universities.” Utah System of Higher Education. 2 Dec 2014. <http://higheredutah.org/improving-graduation-rates-at-utahs-public-colleges-and-universities/>. Accessed 10 March 2015.
“Interstate Passport Initiative.” Utah System of Higher Education. 14 Oct 2014. < http://higheredutah.org/interstate-passport-initiative/>. Accessed 10 March 2014.