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Washington Monthly Recognizes UW as Innovative College for Adult Learners

August 28, 2017

The University of Wyoming has been ranked as one of the nation’s top universities for adult learners by Washington Monthly, which gives special attention to UW’s collaborations with Wyoming community colleges.

The bimonthly national magazine, in its September/October issue, features UW as one of its 12 “most innovative colleges for adult learners” for the university’s efforts to develop program-level articulation agreements with the state’s community colleges.

“We appreciate this national recognition of our work with community colleges to pave the way for transfer students to earn their UW degrees as seamlessly as possible,” says Mary Aguayo, the university’s director of transfer relations. “These articulation agreements have required a great deal of effort by both UW and our community college partners, and they’re another example of the university working to meet the needs of both traditional and nontraditional students.”

In the Washington Monthly article, Associate Editor Joshua Alvarez notes that UW is a repeat top-20 school for adult learners in the magazine’s rankings.

“(UW) stands out for its affordability (ranked second overall among four-year schools), its high loan repayment rate (73 percent) and its services for adults, who make up nearly a third of the student body,” he wrote.

Alvarez also notes that Wyoming has the highest rate in the country of postsecondary students who begin their studies at the state’s community colleges. As a result, the program-level articulation agreements between UW and the colleges are particularly significant. Under those agreements, community college students in dozens of degree programs have the assurance that courses they take will meet requirements for bachelor’s degrees at UW -- so that they don’t have to repeat coursework they’ve already done.

Alvarez cites a 2014 U.S. Department of Education study that found that, nationwide, transfer students lose an average of 13 credits when they move schools, and nearly 40 percent of transfers get no credit for the work they already have completed. A 2016 study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that students with associate degrees take an average of 8.2 years to earn bachelor’s degrees, compared with 5.1 years for students without associate degrees.

In Wyoming, before the development of program-level articulation agreements, UW transfers with associate degrees had only a 24 percent two-year graduation rate, and they had, on average, 21 transferred credits that counted as electives rather than degree requirements. Those numbers are expected to improve significantly as students move through the programs with the new articulation agreements.

“Students coming in with an associate degree are completely prepared for junior-level coursework at UW and are on track to graduate with a bachelor’s in two years,” Aguayo is quoted as saying in Alvarez’s article.

In Washington Monthly’s actual list of “best colleges for adult learners,” UW moved from No. 16 in 2016 to No. 14 in 2017. On the magazine’s list of top national universities, UW ranks No. 55.

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