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Editorial | Island Voices

UH meeting needs of today’s students


The college experience is a different one for today’s generation of higher-education seekers. Baby boomers and Gen X-ers grew up in a culture where college meant living on campus, attending classes in traditional classrooms and earning a bachelor’s degree. 

That’s not the norm for today’s college student. Today, more college students are balancing work and school, while placing a premium on time with their families. Many in Hawaii are living in rural locations.

The University of Hawaii is committed to meeting the needs of today’s college student, and to providing a variety of pathways to a UH degree or certificate.

One of the strengths of the UH is that we are an integrated system of higher education, and we have been doing much more to capitalize on this and the synergy of our 10-campus system. It has never been easier to transfer between campuses in the system.

Automatic admission and reverse credit transfer procedures implemented just this spring aim to improve the odds that students will obtain a degree.

"Automatic admission" will seamlessly admit a graduate from any one of the seven community colleges to one of the three baccalaureate campuses (without applying and without an application fee).

For community college students who transfer before receiving a degree, reverse credit transfer will lead to a credit review, to determine if the student has earned the equivalent of an associate’s degree. If so, students are given the opportunity to receive the degree.

Degree pathway partnerships are another initiative to help students earn degrees quickly. Programs including the Mananawai program between UH-West Oahu and Kapiolani Community College and the Ka’ie’ie Program between UH-Manoa and the community colleges allow students to enroll at both campuses and work toward completion of a baccalaureate degree. This is particularly appealing to students pursuing technical two-year degrees such as respiratory therapy and computer networking, who want to continue their education in hopes of qualifying for managerial-level positions in their field of study.

More of our students are able to attend class online. KCC currently offers 180 classes online, most of which are general education. Windward Community College has increased its online offerings, and is considering distance courses in Kahuku and Waimanalo. In addition to adding more night courses, Maui College is planning a "Weekend College," whereby working adults can earn their associate degrees in two years on a Friday-Saturday schedule. Manoa is developing a computer tool planner that will help students plot out what they need to graduate in four years.

We’re helping students overcome financial barriers to higher education. For the 2009-2010 academic year, more than 14,000 students were awarded the Federal Pell Grant, far exceeding a 2009 goal to boost Pell grant recipients. With the dedicated work of our staff, we awarded $83 million in institutional, state and federal grants and scholarships in 2009-10.

The future of Hawaii depends on the education of its citizens. UH is proud to have participated in Hawaii’s collaborative, successful effort to obtain federal "Race to the Top" funding.

We are encouraged whenever we see Hawaii students succeed in their own race toward success, including students like Shareen Poepoe, who graduated in May from UH-West Oahu — the first graduate of the Mana-

nawai Program. Poepoe earned a bachelor’s of applied science degree with a concentration in respiratory care, having first earned her associate’s degree from KCC.

"KCC gave me my wings when I obtained my associate’s degree in respiratory care," said Poepoe. "In collaboration with UH West Oahu and the Mananawai Program, they provided me with the roadway to success."

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