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NIU, Kish sign innovative reverse transfer pact

January 24, 2014
NIU President Doug Baker, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and Kishwaukee College President Tom Choice

NIU President Doug Baker, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon
and Kishwaukee College President Tom Choice

NIU President Doug Baker and Kishwaukee College President Tom Choice signed an innovative reverse transfer agreement during a Friday morning ceremony at Kishwaukee’s campus in Malta.

The agreement allows eligible NIU students who transferred from Kishwaukee without associate’s degrees to earn the two-year degree using credit from NIU courses.

“Postsecondary education is a powerful force for career advancement, and a skilled workforce helps the region maintain its competitive advantage,” Baker said. “This partnership directly benefits students and positions them for career success, increasing opportunity by breaking down barriers to provide a seamless process to receive credit for work they’ve completed toward an associate’s degree.”

Regional and national data show that the associate degree is a valuable commodity. Employees with associate degrees typically earn an average of $7,200 per year more than employees with no post-secondary credentials – almost $600,000 more in salary over a lifetime.

“The reverse transfer agreement allows Kishwaukee students now at NIU to fully complete the first stage of their educational journey, giving further indication of their academic dedication, evidence of their achievements, and a demonstration to future employers and graduate institutions of their personal motivation to excel,” Choice said, noting that approximately 300 students a year are dually enrolled at both institutions.

Grace Martin and Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon

Grace Martin and Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon

“I think this agreement offers students like me – and there are many of us – the  chance to get our associate’s degrees from Kish and still move forward in our academic careers towards a university degree,” said transfer student Grace Martin, who studied three years at Kishwaukee College before pursuing a journalism degree at NIU. “It is the best of both worlds.”

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, a strong proponent of increasing the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees who touted NIU’s reverse articulation program in her College Completion Playbook released late last year, presided over the signing ceremony.

“College pays off,” Simon said. “When students leave college with credits – but no credential – they are less prepared for the workforce and leave lifetimes of earnings on the table. This reverse transfer agreement is a student-centered reform that should be implemented at campuses across the state. I commend NIU and Kishwaukee on taking the lead.”

More than 150 higher education administrators from around the state received her playbook on how to help more students complete college at less cost. The guide collects the effective practices of leading educators, national experts, faculty, administrators and other professionals and specifically noted NIU’s innovative work to streamline course credit transfers from one school to another.

“Students want a hassle-free transfer process and to receive credit for the work they do,” Baker said. “With this reverse transfer agreement, we’ve got that.”

“The bottom line is that we share students, and our most basic mission is to provide quality education for those students,” Choice said. “The reverse transfer agreement will allow more of the students we share the opportunity to strive for success, and more importantly, achieve it.”