Archive for the ‘degrees’ Category

St. Petersburg College is partnering with Complete Florida, an online initiative designed to help adults, veterans and active duty military personnel finish their college degree. In Florida, about 2.2 million adults, or 20 percent of adults over 25, have earned some college credit but have not completed their degree.

9GODhDmj_400x400With the majority of future jobs in Florida expected to require training beyond high school, Complete Florida is focused on increasing the number of Floridians with a postsecondary credential. It is widely estimated that by 2018, nearly 60 percent of jobs in Florida will require postsecondary credentials beyond a high school diploma. Currently, 35 percent of the state’s adults have an associate degree or higher.

Created and funded by the Florida Legislature, the initiative is a joint effort between the State University System of Florida and the Florida College System to address the critical education gap while giving priority to veterans and active duty military.

“Complete Florida’s goal is to get adults back to school and help them meet their educational and professional goals through personalized coaching, concierge-based wraparound support systems and accelerated program completion,” said Pam Northrup, Executive Director of UWF’s Innovation Institute. “Ultimately, we want to connect graduates with job opportunities in Florida.”

Led by the University of West Florida’s Innovation Institute, Complete Florida offers 50 fully online, flexible and accelerated degree programs and certificates. All programs align with high-wage, high-skill workforce needs in the areas of information technology, health care, business, education and general studies. Currently, 11 state and private institutions in Florida are partnering in Complete Florida.

As part of Complete Florida, SPC received a $100,000 grant to help devise ways to incorporate prior-learning assessments, competency-based learning and advising into the delivery and support service model for students to succeed.

Coaching and extensive support systems are the backbones of the Complete Florida program. Personal coaches act as student advocates working to integrate students’ existing college credit and prior learning experiences into their program of study. Complete Florida’s personal learning coaches help students fit courses into busy schedules and align skills and interests to programs and jobs, putting them on a personalized path to a college degree.

For now, SPC offers the following programs through Complete Florida and plans to add more:

Scholarships and financial aid opportunities are available for qualified students. For additional information on Complete Florida, visit http://www.completeflorida.org.

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St. Petersburg College has received national recognition for making significant strides in its effort to increase minority student enrollment and success.

SPC made the list as No. 83 in the Top 100 Four-Year Colleges and Universities Enrollment Undergraduate Degrees by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine in May 2014.

The move to increase Hispanic student enrollment at SPC is underway in light of the recent passage of House Bill 851, more commonly known as the immigrant tuition bill. The bill allows Florida colleges and universities to waive out-of-state fees for undocumented immigrants who attended state high schools.

Stan Vittetoe, Provost at the SPC Clearwater Campus, said the Hispanic population is underserved.

“They make up more than 20 percent of the Clearwater population but represent only 10 percent of our enrollment,” he said.

In 2012, SPC launched The College Experience, a major initiative to increase student success and graduations. While the plan is producing positive results, the greatest advances have been among African-American and Hispanic males.

“All of the components in The College Experience have a demonstrated impact on the success rates of students, particularly minority students,” Vittetoe said.

In addition to these institutional initiatives, the college also is reaching out to the international community, including Hispanics, in a variety of other ways. The most recent outreach activity was the FIFA World Cup viewing party at the Clearwater Campus on June 17. More than 100 community members attended the free event, which was open to SPC students, staff and members of the public.

“We think that these kinds of events will help members of the Hispanic community become aware of the campus and the educational opportunities here,” Vittetoe said.

Success among minority students

Success Among Minority Students infographic

Narrowing the Achievement Gap

A comparison of First-Time-in-College male ethnicities shows that the achievement gap between key ethnic groups at SPC is narrowing.

Narrowing the Gap infographic

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At the June Board of Trustees meeting, St. Petersburg College officials presented information on the college’s strategic priority of providing baccalaureate education and the success rates and demographics of those students. The typical SPC bachelor’s degree graduate is a 31-year-old female who works at least part-time and takes classes online.

This spring, the Florida Legislature barred all 28 Florida colleges from creating new bachelor’s degree programs for a year. Legislators want to review the rapid growth of such degree programs at state colleges, which produced 5,009 graduates in 2012-2013, nearly double the number from the previous two years.

Since 2001, state colleges have offered bachelor’s degrees to meet workforce needs, such as shortages of nurses and teachers. But lawmakers worry state colleges are competing with state universities. Today, 24 state colleges offer 175 bachelor’s degrees.

SPC began with three bachelor’s degrees, in nursing, education and information technology in 2001. It now offers 24. Since 2008, a total of 7,355 students have earned bachelor’s degrees from SPC, which averages 1,000 graduates a year. Baccalaureate students make up 12% of SPC’s enrollment and 20% of its graduates.

“Our baccalaureate students are not traditional students,” said Jesse Coraggio, Associate Vice President Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Grants. “When we talk about competition that may exist between the state college and the university, once you look at the data, there really is no competition. We’re talking about very different needs of students and very different student groups.”

Typically, bachelor’s degree students at SPC outperform lower division students “because they’ve already made it through that part of their academic career,” Coraggio said. They are more committed to graduating and earn their degrees in an average 6.7 semesters. Nearly 90% complete their program within three years. Their course success rates average 85%, compared to lower division course success rates of 74%.

They also earn more money. A report commissioned by the Legislature shows graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn about $18,000 more than those with associate degrees at the mid-point of their careers.

“These programs have been very instrumental in helping mid-career adults get a credential that will move them forward,” said SPC President Bill Law. “There is not a single program on that list that (University of South Florida) president Judy Genshaft did not sign off on in her office, and in fact most of them started in her office” as a way to take pressure off the university, he said.

BOT Chairman Deveron Gibbons called SPC’s bachelor’s degrees essential for those who cannot afford to attend a state university.

“I’m telling you right now, some of these folks would not be going to college at all if they had to travel, or they had to move,” Gibbons said. “They just wouldn’t be able to go through a full baccalaureate program. They couldn’t do it without all the things that are right here in this county that help them be successful.”

To learn more, view the presentation at the 37:20 point of the video.


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In the annual assessment published this week by Community College Week, St. Petersburg College again was 13th in the nation for the number of associate degrees awarded during the 2011-12 academic year. That is the same position the college held the previous year.

Among four-year institutions, SPC ranked 10th in the nation for the number of associate degrees awarded, up one spot from the previous year.

SPC ranked fifth among Florida state colleges behind Miami-Dade, Valencia, Broward, and Florida State College at Jacksonville in the number of associate degrees awarded. The college graduated 4,019 associate degree candidates, a 14.2 percent increase over the previous year. Miami-Dade graduated 11,959; Valencia, 7,974; Broward, 6,218; and Florida State at Jacksonville, 5,744.

Some other interesting facts from the national rankings —

SPC was:

  • 6th in the number of associate degrees awarded in liberal arts & sciences, general studies and humanities (2,590)
  • 19th in the number of associate degrees awarded in health professions and related programs (618)
  • 12th in the number of associate degrees awarded in nursing (392)
  • 61st in the number of associate degrees awarded to African-American students (316)

The rankings were published in Community College Week’s June 24 issue.

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A recent story in the Tampa Tribune talks about St. Petersburg College’s plans to offer a four-year degree in technology development and management. Subconcentrations would be data analytics or software development, according to the article.

“We did it; the whole program is in place,” said Sharon Setterlind, Dean of SPC’s college of computer and information technology, said in the article. “I’m excited about it. I really am.”

Last year, Gov. Rick Scott challenged the state college system to create a $10,000 degree program. SPC was the first to take on the challenge.

“The spirit of the $10,000 degree was how we as institutions can change our processes to make it cost less,” said Jesse Coraggio, Associate Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Grants, said in the article. “Not just charge less, but make it cost less.”

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Area college presidents meet to sign “reverse credit transfer” agreement on Monday, Feb. 4.

A new agreement among several area colleges including SPC and the University of South Florida could help hundreds of students through “reverse credit transfers.”

SPC administrators estimate about 1,000 students over the past three years may benefit from the new agreement that allows certain colleges to work together to identify students who have earned enough credit for an associate degree but haven’t received it because the credit is spread among two or more institutions.

SPC, USF, Hillsborough Community College, Pasco-Hernando Community College and Polk State College are part of the partnership. Presidents from the institutions met Monday, Feb. 4, and signed agreement.

Several media outlets covered the signing or carried reports about the agreement and its impact.

“This is an important piece,” said SPC President Bill Law in an article in the Tampa Bay Times. “It documents success. It gives us another way for a student to demonstrate what he or she has achieved. … All of us know life intrudes for many of our students, and it’s never a straight line from one place to another, academically. If life intrudes and they don’t have this, then they really have nothing.”

Changing times have left some students in limbo as their four-year degree plans are delayed or derailed, Law said in an article in The Tampa Tribune. “I think there’s a big difference in a resume that says, ‘I went back to school, I got an associates’ degree, and then went on to USF, I’m working on that and expecting to graduate,’ compared with one that says, ‘I’ve got a handful of credits at a couple of colleges.’ “

In an article from USF’s student newspaper The Oracle, USF President Judy Genshaft said she believed the agreement could have potential benefits for the local economy because an associate degree can make a difference in helping someone to get a good job or promotion.

In January, the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment released a report urging colleges and universities to help students get all the way, not some of the way, to graduation, according to the article in the Times.

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SPC entered into an agreement with several area colleges Monday that will allow “reverse credit transfers.”

The agreement allows the colleges to work together to identify students who have earned enough credit to be awarded an associate degree but who haven’t received the degree because the credit is spread among two or more institutions. Other institutions entering the pact are the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College, Pasco-Hernando Community College and Polk State College.

SPC President Bill Law met with presidents from other institutions at USF’s Patel Center for Global Solutions in Tampa to sign the agreement.

The agreement builds on a partnership, established by USF, HCC, PHCC and SPC in November 2011, to provide students with a clear pathway to earning associate and bachelor’s degrees. It follows a report released in January by the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment that called on colleges and universities to find ways to provide students with credit for previously completed coursework, in hopes of improving graduation rates.

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83 Degrees mentioned SPC and other area community colleges in an article looking at the value of a college degree.

The article reported about information presented by a panel called “The College Advantage,” which drew attention to the issue during both the Republican and Democratic national conventions in Tampa and Charlotte, N.C. It also discussed how SPC has signed an agreement with the University of South Florida guaranteeing graduates of two-year institutions admission to the university.

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83 Degrees featured an article this week on the Sustainable Environment Research Foundation or SERF, a nonprofit that incorporates preservation, education and sustainable technology into one facility in Tarpon Springs.

The article mentions talks with SPC about sustainability training for high school and college students and plans for students from the college’s sustainability management program to intern at Tampa Bay area companies in the fields of marine science, engineering and environmental science and to work on community projects. Dr. Lynn Grinnell, a professor of sustainability management at St. Petersburg College, is quoted in the article. SPC’s sustainability management program offers nine core classes where students can attain skills that will give them a unique edge in a competitive job market, Grinnell said.

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From left: President Bill Law, Public Policy and Administration graduates Amy Griffith and Trinity Anzur, and Jeffrey Kronschnabl, Instructor in Charge, Public Policy and Administration Baccalaureate Program.

Trinity Anzur and Amy Griffith made college history on July 21 when they became the  first Public Policy and Administration graduates.

The Public Policy and Administration program launched in fall 2010. The four-year degree program, which began with 10 students and now has about 75, offers an opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of policy development and implementation through direct government action. The primarily face-to-face courses are offered at the Seminole and Clearwater campuses but some blended courses and limited online courses also are available.

“The success of the program has been extraordinary,” said Jeffrey Kronschnabl, Instructor in Charge for Public Policy and Administration at the Seminole Campus. “We’ve had students interning all over the county — in the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Belleair — and they have been doing extremely well.”

Kronschnabl worked extensively with Anzur and Griffith in several classes.

“These two ladies worked very hard and have shown a strong commitment to their education,” he said. “They took an overload of classes. They were successful in every endeavor.”

Meet the graduates

Trinity Anzur

Trinity Anzur

As a single mother, Trinity Anzur recognized the importance of an education. It would help make a better life for her and her 6-year-old son, Cooper.

After moving to St. Pete Beach around 2000, the northwestern Indiana native began taking classes for an associate’s degree the following year.

“I was trying to look for something that I could do that is close to home, and something that would be good for me and my son,” said Anzur, 36.

Although she then moved away for about seven years for employment opportunities, she returned to pick up where she left off with her degree.

While visiting with an academic advisor in 2010, the new Public Policy and Administration baccalaureate degree came up.

“They told me about the program and I thought it sounded interesting,” she said. “I think having a bachelor’s degree is a big benefit. Especially in the job economy today, it’s just an advantage.”

With the program being so new, the classes were smaller, helping Anzur and her fellow students form study groups and develop relationships that will last beyond the July 21 graduation day.

“It really made things more comfortable when there were speeches that had to be done and stuff like that,” she said. “Knowing everybody made it a little easier.

“I had a friend that graduated from USF and she didn’t have the group connection that I have here with my classmates,” Anzur said. “With my classmates, we still talk on the phone and text. We’re even going to lunch in the next couple days.”

She hopes the example she has created of getting a bachelor’s degree will leave a good impression on her son.

“I think it will have a positive effect on him,” she said. “He didn’t like that I was gone at school all the time, but he understands that I was doing it to benefit our family.”

Anzur  is interested in pursuing a law degree with a focus on family law.

“It’s something I’ve thought about but I’m a little burned out on school right now and I might take a semester or two off,” she said. “But it’s still something in the back of my mind.”

Amy Griffith

Amy Griffith

After taking classes at institutions such as Temple University, La Salle and even Penn State University, Amy Griffith’s academic path took a turn when her Coast Guard engineer husband, Steve, received relocation orders to St. Petersburg three years ago.

When the Philadelphia native began looking into the programs at St. Petersburg College, she was impressed.

“Even from just calling SPC and actually talking to a real person,” said Griffith, 29. “It beat the other schools hands-down.”

She enrolled at SPC and began working toward an associate’s degree in nursing when an advisor told her about the new Public Policy and Administration bachelor’s degree program.

“I thought that would be perfect because I wanted to work in hospital administration and not really patient care,” Griffith said. “So the Public Policy and Administration really looked good for me.”

Only needing a few more classes to get a general Associate in Arts degree, she changed her major to liberal arts and graduated with her associate’s degree. She then enrolled in the bachelor’s degree program.

“The program itself is great. The classes build upon each other, and the way they have them scheduled is perfect,” she said.

“I loved it here,” she said. “I’ve been through bigger universities in Philadelphia, and this program, and the college, was the best experience out of all of them.”

She already has received two job offers from the state of Florida and from a hospital. She next wants to pursue a master’s degree in health administration from Penn State or St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“All of the counselors I’ve talked to for master’s degree programs said the public policy and administration degree looks really good for doing any kind of health administration.”


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