GUEST COMMENTARY: College completion good for individuals, economy

2012-10-23T16:06:00Z 2013-11-29T19:32:40Z GUEST COMMENTARY: College completion good for individuals, economyBy Allison Barber and Teresa Lubbers
October 23, 2012 4:06 pm  • 

This past Saturday, 50 feet defined the difference between dreams and deadlines, between yesterday’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities.

This past Saturday, 50 feet – the distance that 84 graduates from WGU Indiana walked as they crossed the commencement stage at the Indiana Convention Center to receive their bachelor’s or master’s degree diplomas – was all about completion.

WGU Indiana has been recognized by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education as an example of a university where flexibility meets academic quality. But flexibility doesn't equate to an easy road. So the hard work and rigor have paid off.

Congratulations to the WGU Indiana graduates and their families for finishing what they started in attaining their bachelor’s or post-graduate degrees. Why is this so important?

One in five adults in Indiana has some college, but no degree. Life got in the way at some point. But with higher education options such as WGU Indiana, the tide is starting to turn. More Hoosiers than ever recognize that a college credential is their passport to opportunity and prosperity. Indiana is rising to the challenge by establishing one of the best and most student-centered higher education systems in the nation.

The current educational attainment level of Hoosiers remains woefully inadequate, though, especially in a knowledge-based economy.

Understandably, Indiana was well positioned for many decades to address our workforce needs without a highly educated population. Those days are gone. All sectors in our economy need people who have higher problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

We are on the cusp of determining what kind of place Indiana will be — a place of opportunity and prosperity or one marked by lower per-capita personal income and constrained economic strength. The key factor in ensuring Indiana's success lies in the educational attainment of our people.

This is why we are celebrating the graduates of WGU Indiana for going further in their education. Most of these highly achieving Hoosier adults work full time, yet they have discovered that online instruction and a competency-based model enable them and their fellow students to meet their educational goals in a timely, cost-efficient manner.

WGU Indiana is transforming higher education and offering new paths to realize student aspirations and the state’s education attainment goals.

So congratulations to the graduates and faculty as they celebrate WGU Indiana’s third annual commencement. And to the 3,000 students across Indiana who are moving toward this achievement – you can do it!

From a significant increase in individual opportunity and lifetime earning potential to the positive impact on the state's economy, college completion counts.

Allison Barber is chancellor of WGU Indiana. Teresa Lubbers is commissioner of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. The opinion expressed in this column is the writers' and not necessarily that of The Times.

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