SPC and three other institutions from around the state are working to create the Complete College Florida Pilot, an innovative new degree completion and job placement program. If approved by the Florida legislature, the pilot program will help adults finish the associate and baccalaureate degrees they started but never completed.
“The focus of this pilot is to work with adult reentry learners who have stopped out of college for a variety of reasons—could be family issues, military issues, finances, jobs—and to get them back into college and into jobs,” said Jim Olliver, Provost of the Seminole Campus, who spoke about the initiative at the Senate Committee Meeting in Tallahassee on Jan. 25.
SPC, along with the University of West Florida, University of South Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville, are the lead institutions collaborating to recruit, recover and retain adult learners and assist them in completing degrees aligned to high wage, high skill workforce needs.
“This is about getting Floridians back to work or advancing in their jobs by completing their degrees, whether associate’s or bachelor’s,” Olliver said. “I think the state colleges—St. Petersburg College and Florida State College at Jacksonville—bring some real value to the table. Not only because we have programs to offer, but because we also have extensive experience in building and operating large, distance learning programs.”
The online pilot project differs from the online programs already offered at SPC in that it will be fully online and accelerated (five to eight weeks), with an emphasis on assessment of prior learning experience and experiential learning that will give the adult learners credit for life and work experiences. It also will allow for a greater level of cooperation between state institutions, and greater leveraging of statewide resources in areas such as support of out-of-class activities.
“One of the things we’ve talked about the need for a single point of contact; a centralized office where adult students from anywhere in the state can contact this office,” he said. “Then there’ll be a handoff to the institutions that are offering the particular program so the students can receive individualized attention at the local level.
“Degree completion is a statewide imperative,” Olliver said. “There are 2 million Floridians, 23 percent of the workforce, with some college and no degree.”
If the state legislature approves the funding, the project will begin in fall 2012.
“At this point, we’re very pleased that the concept is getting a positive hearing,” Olliver said. “The next step is for our four institutions to get together to talk about what we can do before the funding becomes available to get this ready to launch so we can get students enrolled just as quickly as possible.”