Mason, NOVA Partner to Help Students to Four-Year Degree
George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College joined Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to announce a groundbreaking partnership to assist students as they transfer from a two-year program and earn a four-year undergraduate degree.
ADVANCE: A NOVA Mason Partnership will increase graduation rates and smooth the path to a degree while saving students time and money. It will work in collaboration with Northern Virginia employers to adapt and create high-demand programs to fill the region’s critical workforce needs.
“I’m proud to be part of this announcement of a new stronger partnership between our largest public university and largest two-year college,” McAuliffe said. “My administration has always focused on three broad goals: ensuring equality for all Virginians, enhancing our quality of life, and building a new Virginia economy. There is no better way to achieve these goals than ensuring our citizens have access to a high-quality education, which we all know leads to better jobs, greater fulfillment, and more enriched lives.”
ADVANCE creates for students a single point of admission and financial aid, a dedicated advisor from admission to NOVA through graduation from George Mason, realignment of curricula to ensure students don’t lose credits when they transfer, and financial incentives for the neediest students.
Estimates show students who earn a four-year Mason degree two years after transferring from NOVA can save a full year of tuition.
“We see this as a critical solution at a time when many students across the nation who want a degree are not able to achieve that goal. We are committed to helping these students and see the ADVANCE program as a real difference-maker.”
— Mason President Ángel Cabrera
The partnership is expected to welcome its first students into NOVA in fall 2018. The plan is to add five academic programs to the partnership every year, starting with those in Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering, the School of Business, the College of Science, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“This is about making the right investment for the future,” NOVA President Scott Ralls said. “Our power to grow together to support the region is fundamental to the growth of Northern Virginia economy. It also is an essential component of our mission of inclusive excellence, which ensures that all students who want a degree can earn one.”
Although 80 percent of students attending community colleges say they want to earn a four-year degree, only 14 percent achieve that goal after six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Students who graduate from NOVA with an associate’s degree perform better than average, at 20 percent.
Those are striking numbers at a time when, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a graduate of a four-year college can expect to earn 33 percent more over their lifetime than a graduate of a two-year college.
“We’re designing a new kind of program that will be a single institutional experience,” said Michelle Marks, Mason’s vice president for academic innovation and new ventures. “It could be a commonwealth model, and a national model.”
The Washington Post also reported on the event today.