News & Events / “More than one decade of equity-focused completion best practices at your finger tips.”

“More than one decade of equity-focused completion best practices at your finger tips.”

Published Jan 14, 2022

The latest addition to IHEP’s Degrees When Due collection distills insights from 12 years and more than 200 institutions from 23 states into 10 steps to inform evidence-based efforts to support “some college, no degree” students across the degree finish line through adult reengagement and reverse transfer. 

 WASHINGTON, DC (January 14, 2022) – Two weeks into the new year, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) has shared ten steps for institutions, systems, and states to increase completion rates in 2022 and beyond. In a 33-page playbook complete with a strategic assessment and appendix full of carefully crafted worksheets and checklists, The Degree Reclamation Playbook is a user-friendly guide for practitioners across higher education who seek to reengage some of the 36 million Americans who have attended college but needed to stop out before earning a degree.  

Degree reclamation is a combination of evidence-based and equity-focused strategies to capture the momentum of existing credits and put students with “some college, no degree” back on track to earn their degree. The Degree Reclamation Playbook focuses on two such strategies: adult reengagement and reverse transfer. Adult reengagement helps colleges identify, locate, and communicate with students who accumulated a significant number of credits but stopped out before completing a degree. This strategy includes retroactively awarding degrees to students who meet degree requirements and identifying ways to reengage and reenroll students who are near completion. Reverse transfer, also referred to as “reverse credit transfer,” ensures that students are awarded the associate’s degrees they earn even after transferring from a two-year institution to a four-year institution by applying credits from the four-year institution back to the two-year institution. 

“Higher education is a path to a better living and a better life for all students regardless of race, income, or circumstance – but only if students are able to complete college and earn a degree of value,” said Mamie Voight, IHEP’s president and CEO. “The country faces a college completion crisis with distinct gaps in attainment along racial lines. Now more than ever, we need our institutions of higher education to undertake these proven strategies to identify and eliminate inequities and boost college completion.”  

The COVID-19 pandemic deepened the attainment divide and forced even more Americans who had attended college and accrued significant amounts of college credit to stop out without being awarded a credential that recognizes their learning and effort. For more than a decade, IHEP has worked to support these students and promote degree completion, including through Project Win-Win and Degrees When Due 

“This playbook puts more than one decade of evidence-based and equity-focused completion best practices at practitioners’ fingertips,” added Jennifer Pocai, IHEP’s research and programs manager. “Over the course of our multi-year Degrees When Due completion initiative, we saw colleges and universities across the country employ these degree reclamation strategies to support thousands of students across the degree finish line. With the myriad challenges students and schools are facing today, we are particularly pleased to be sharing this tool and supporting thousands more to reach their education and career goals.”  

In addition to its ten clear steps, The Degree Reclamation Playbook offers a strategic assessment for institutions to determine which of the steps are most relevant to their work. The two tracks – adult reengagement and reverse transfer – are clearly outlined and color-coded throughout the playbook.