Rainsong Gates, an undergraduate in human physiology at the University of Oregon, says she transferred from Lane Community College to the UO a few years ago without getting her associate degree.
“I’d reached my credit limit at Lane,” she says, “and so I transferred to the UO. I’m a non-traditional student — I’ve been in college for the last four or five years — and it was frustrating that I hadn’t received anything from Lane after having spent that much time there.”
According to Helen Garrett, dean of enrollment management systems at LCC, “Research shows that students who earn an associate degree on their way to a bachelor’s are more likely to finish their bachelor’s degree.” Garrett says a few years ago, only 8 percent of LCC students were earning degrees, but that number is now up to 20 percent, due in part to LCC’s drive to find ways to award more degrees.
Gates and other students now have access to the Project Oregon Reverse Transfer (PORT) program, funded through a $450,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation. The program allows students at four-year institutions to combine their community college credits with university credits and earn an associate degree or certificate while they pursue their bachelor’s degree.
So far, LCC has awarded four degrees through this system and has just started to review 150 applications that came in at the end of last year. Gates was the first of this group to receive an associate degree.
The state of Oregon is using achievement compacts, overseen by the Oregon Education Investment Board, to encourage secondary and post-secondary schools to commit to more degrees earned and milestones achieved, and Garrett says that awarding more degrees contributes to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s goal of seeing 40 percent of adult Oregonians with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 40 percent with an associate degree and 20 percent with a high school diploma by 2025.
The PORT program creates a win-win scenario for students and LCC, Garrett says. “This is what’s best for the student, but secondly, it ups the amount of degrees and certificates that Lane is giving.”
Garrett says an associate degree looks good on a resume, and if students take breaks from school but have earned an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree, they no longer have to take general requirement classes once they start again at a four-year institution, saving students time and money.
Former LCC students can check their eligibility for the PORT program by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Current UO students with LCC credits can check DuckWeb for more information.