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UofL, JCTC Want People Who've Done the Coursework to Get Their Associates Degrees

The University of Louisville and Jefferson Community and Technical College want to add to the city's 55,000 Degrees initiative by granting associates degrees to transfer students who've already done the coursework but never got around to applying for the two-year degree.To qualify for what is being called the Reverse Transfer Degree, students must earn at least 15 credit hours from JCTC before transferring to UofL, where they then must earn an additional 45 credit hours.  The students then will be eligible for an associates degree from JCTC, despite having done a majority of the coursework at UofL.55,000 Degrees is aprogram that works to ensure at least 50 percent of Louisville residents have a college degree by 2020. The program wouldn't improve Louisville's education level, but officials said it's a way to make sure they're being properly recognizedf or the work they've done.UofL, JCTC and 55,000 Degrees announced the program on Friday.Mary Gwen Wheeler, the executive director of the 55,000 Degrees program, said the program is more than just a way to boost the amount of Louisvillians with degrees. She said it is a “motivator for students.”“Too many times, people do the work, but they don’t actually get the credential,” she said.  “Once they earn that associate degree, they have that as something they can show and prove the work they have done.”Wheeler said the awareness and economic importance of the associate degree credential is “what really brought this to a head.”“We know that degrees make such a difference in a person’s ability to earn higher dollars and to make their way and it contributes to the overall community prosperity in that way too,” she said.Diana Reisenberg, a senior at UofL who earned her associate degree through the reverse transfer program, said getting her associate degree was not her initial goal.She said after professors at JCTC reached out to her and explained that having dual degrees can make her more employable, she was convinced it was something she wanted to do.“It makes you feel important, it makes you feel like the entire education process was worth it,” Reisenberg.In December, only 12 UofL students received their associate degree from JCTC.  But, university officials said at least 100 UofL students are expected to receive a "reverse degree" from JCTC in May.More than 1,300 have been deemed potential candidates for the program, according to university officials.Wheeler said the 41.3 percent of Louisville residents currently have a college degree.“We’re at our highest level ever,” she said.  “We still have a ways to go, but we’re making progress.  It’s going to take all of us pulling together on initiatives like this.”

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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