Robin Golden went to high school without much effort. After graduating in the spring of 1981, he planned to leave college and go directly to the job market.
He was furious when his father, a professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, signed him up for classes there. He didn’t want to go, and when he dropped out two years later, his GPA was 1.8.
But after decades of low pay and a sense of humiliation at various jobs, Golden realized that maybe his father was right – maybe he should get a college degree.
Beginning in 2018, while working full time, Golden began taking classes online – first at a community college in Ohio, then at Morgan State – with a determination that he was not 18 years old. He earned a 3.8 GPA when he received his associate’s degree. Community College, and he has made the list of deans in Morgan State.
On Saturday, Golden, 59, graduated from Morgan State with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies applied with concentration in sociology – the first to be registered there after 41 years.
The main target of the liberal study applied by Morgan State is adult students who have taken some college courses but dropped out before finishing. Launched five years ago, it has encouraged the development of the College of Interdisciplinary and Continuing Studies, which was launched this spring. It will offer many of the same things that helped adult students succeed after some time, but will now serve as a distinct sector of the college, open to in-state tuition prices for students across the country.
Many programs across the country target 39 million people who have taken some college classes but have not finished. In Morgan State, returnees may earn an associate’s degree before entering the workforce; Taking some classes before hitting a family, health or financial roadblock; Or, like Golden, they need to take time before committing to seeing the value in college and seeing their degree through.
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Dean Nicholas Watt, an academic at the College of Interdisciplinary and Continuing Studies and interim assistant to student success, said these students are not considered to have failed because they have not graduated for the first time. “They are successful because they have already earned academic credit. That’s already putting them forward. And so, we just want to provide flexibility and support to help them cross the finish line. “
Instead of reviving the traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program, Vaught says Morgan State, a historically black university, designed its program specifically for adults, who often work full-time and handle family responsibilities while attending school. The program gives credit for work experience, offers flexible online classes and offers the value of education within the state to help every student, whether living in Maryland, make a bachelor’s degree more financially accessible, Vaught said.
“Less tuition is not enough. Online courses are not enough. There is also a support system that many adult students need. ”
Nicholas Watt, College of Interdisciplinary and Continuing Studies, Academic and Intermediate Dean of Student Success at Morgan State University
And is associated with an advisor to work closely with each student. Instead of checking only once per semester to help schedule, counselors also help students access non-academic resources and provide ethical support.
“Less tuition is not enough. Online courses are not enough. There is also a support system that many adult students need, ”Vaught said. “Sometimes as an adult student, you just have to get a kind email, especially when you’re working on a lot of things.”
Vaught said the college tried to reach out to students using radio ads and other local ads who started in Morgan State but were later thwarted. Now that the College of Interdisciplinary and Continuing Studies is open to students across the country, recruitment efforts may change.
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Morgan State works with a company called ReUp, which hires coaches to work with students to find a way back to college. In addition to helping navigate bureaucratic arrangements, such as accessing financial aid or transferring credit, which may become unfamiliar over time, coaches help students determine what resources they will need to succeed in returning to school and when to support them. . They are in stressful situations.
Alice Spencer, an instructor at ReUp, told her students, “I’ll be here until you graduate, or you’ll tell me to leave. But otherwise, I’m here to support you. “
“I want to try and reduce the run-round that they have to do because they’re busy,” he added. “They have a life, they have a full-time job. And if I can help make that process a little easier so that they can follow through and achieve their goals, that’s what I’m here for. ”
John Reyes, who manages coaches at ReUp, said that in addition to helping students navigate financial aid and transfer credit systems, he encouraged them to “dig a little deeper into the surface” and evaluate their goals for the college.
Reyes said it was important that he “really hold that place for them to think, ‘Will going back to school be less from an academic point of view and more of that life integration, life balance, personal?’
Related: New solution for colleges to reduce enrollment: Stop dropouts
For Golden, the built-in support at Morgan State was helpful as he sought credit from different schools and decades, figured out how to meet all requirements in the shortest possible time, and could continue his regular, full-time job.
Now, she is hoping for a promotion to her new degree in Applied Liberal Studies where she works, in the general services department of a nearby county government.
But it’s not just about promotion, he said. It is in honor of his father, who first enrolled him in Morgan State in 1981 while he was a professor there, and since then he has died, and also for his mother a former Morgan State professor who received a copy of Golden at the age of 84. Dean’s list certificate in the mail.
And that’s for her three children, all of whom have graduated from the University of Maryland.
“I was really honest with my kids about my drop out. I told them all, ‘Don’t do this. Because you can get stuck in a low paying job life where you don’t feel valued.’ And I was, ”Golden said.
And it’s about personal satisfaction, too, he said, “I kept the job and, you know, I think a bit ‘maybe I should pinch myself.’ “
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