Complete College Ohio

An educated workforce is vital to economic growth in Ohio.  For businesses to thrive, workers must be well-educated and well-trained. 

Sadly, both our country and our state have fallen behind in terms of the number of individuals with college degrees.  The number of adults in Ohio with a bachelor’s degree remains in the bottom quarter of the nation. While 31 percent of adults in the United States have a bachelor’s degree, that number drops to 26 percent in Ohio. 

Why are these statistics important to every Ohioan? Because for every 1 percent increase in the total number of bachelor’s degrees in Ohio, an estimated $2.5 billion in increased economic activity per year is generated here. An individual with a bachelor’s degree will earn almost $20,000 more per year than a high school graduate.

Completion of a degree improves our economy, which in turn improves lives. It is the reason I have made degree completion in Ohio our focus.

Some might be shocked to learn that fewer than half of the students who enter our public colleges and universities earn their degree or credential of value.  In order to improve graduation rates, I have convened an Ohio Completion Task Force that consists of a 30-member council of university presidents and others working to create a specific action plan that will help close gaps in college completion rates, ensure access and quality, and evaluate completion strategies that have documented success.

One of the action plan’s key issues will be reducing the time it takes to complete a college degree. A wealth of studies indicates that the longer it takes to complete a degree, the less likely a student is to complete it. Other topics the Task Force will address include reinventing remediation (currently, 41 percent of students entering college are taking at least one remedial course); improving specific tactics that enhance completion, including ensuring students are fully prepared for college and career training when they graduate from high school; incentivizing completion for both students and our institutions of higher education; and removing barriers that prevent completion. The Task Force is working to produce a detailed plan later this year.

We are building on our collaborative efforts with the Ohio Department of Education for a seamless system of education from pre-K-12, which ensures students are prepared for either college or career when they graduate from high school. 

One of our university system’s greatest strengths is its credit transfer system. More than 43,000 students transferred credit within the University System of Ohio in 2010-2011, saving $46.1 million. Ohio’s Guaranteed Degree Pathways, using the Ohio Transfer Module, Transfer Assurance Guides and Career-Technical Credit Transfer initiatives, help students increase their ability to get full credit for their work if they transfer. A state-wide Advanced Placement policy has also helped accelerate degree attainment for high school students.  But we must do more.

Seventy-five percent of today’s college students are non-traditional. Ohio’s colleges and universities must aggressively build on programs that make it easy and faster for students to successfully complete their degrees, and counsel students to engage in degrees where there is an urgent need to fill jobs, particularly the areas of insurance, IT and high-tech manufacturing.   

Our focus and message are clear – Complete College Ohio.  We must ensure that students complete their education by earning applicable certificates, degrees or other credentials that demonstrate they are qualified to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Ohio’s economic future hinges on the level of post-secondary education attained by our citizens.  In our country’s highly competitive and unpredictable global economy, the only certainty is that the jobs of tomorrow will flow to communities, states and nations with the educated populations qualified to fill them.