Degree Completion and You in Oregon

Dave King, Associate Provost Outreach and Engagement
Dave King, Associate Provost Outreach and Engagement
click image for larger version

In the state of Oregon there are 750,000 people with some college experience  (including community college) but no bachelor’s degree. According to the Lumina Foundation, in 2008, nearly 570,000 Oregon residents fit into this category of some college, no degree — representing more than 27 percent of the state’s adult population. (Adding the 186,000 associate's degree holders gets us to 750,000 with some college and no bachelor's degree.) (http://www.luminafoundation.org/state_work/oregon/)

A recent analysis by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce of occupation data and workforce trends indicates 64 percent of Oregon’s jobs will require postsecondary education by 2018. Between now and 2018, Oregon will need to fill about 591,000 vacancies resulting from job creation, worker retirements and other factors. Of these job vacancies, 377,000 will require postsecondary credentials, while only 214,000 are expected to be filled by high school graduates or dropouts.

You can see why the Governor is pushing so hard on the 40/40/20 initiative. I’m sure you heard of it. Here’s what the Oregonian reported on November 4, 2011:

“CORVALLIS -- Oregon has staked its education and economic future on a goal called 40-40-20, and top education leaders gathered in Corvallis this week to consider how they are going to reach it.
The goal declares that by 2025, Oregon will ensure that:

  • 40 percent of adults will have earned a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • 40 percent of adults will have earned an associate degree or post-secondary credential.
  • 20 percent of adults will have earned a high school diploma, modified high school diploma or the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Earlier this year, the Legislature not only made this goal law, it also adopted an implementation plan, across all levels of education, that bases student advancement on proficiency rather than age and course credits.” 

Reaching the 40/40/20 goals could have financial value. Census studies show us that people holding a Bachelors degree make nearly $1 million more over their working career. Here’s the breakdown:

High school graduates on average earn $1.2 million in lifetime income. Those with a bachelor's degree earn $2.1 million over a lifetime. People with a master's degree earn $2.5 million. Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life.

http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/p23-210.pdf

For OSU (as a Land-Grant University) to be a true economic driver and significantly increase the number of people in the state who have bachelor’s degree and therefore make significantly more money over their professional lives, we can’t rely on the incoming 18-year-olds to feed the process.  There aren’t enough of them.  We must bring a significant number of the 750,000 into the mix and help them get degrees.  Those experienced working adults make a much stronger and more immediate economic impact than waiting for an entry-level 25-year-old with a newly minted degree to work their way up the food chain. 

So what does this mean to Extension?

As an integral part of the OSU Division of Outreach and Engagement, Extension is front and center in our effort to make inroads into the 750,000 “some college, no degree” group of Oregonians. With faculty in every county, we know many of these people personally. We know their friends and families. What we also know as personally as anyone, is what the impact could be on our communities if more of our friends, neighbors, and community leaders were contributing to the economic vitality of our communities as (OSU) bachelor’s or better degree holders.  

Starting with our new County Leaders and continuing through our field faculty and campus faculty with connections in every community, we can help people understand how easy and valuable it can be for them to return to academe and finish their degrees with OSU.

Every community has unique needs. Addressing those needs with degree completion programs requires we connect directly to the community; communities in which OSU Extension has roots that run deep. Who better to know what will help improve community economic vitality?  Who better to advise neighbors, family, friends and peers where to go to finish their degree and why it can be of immense value to the individual and the community. 

Dave King
Associate Provost
Outreach and Engagement
dave.king@oregonstate.edu