GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Students will be able to earn both an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree under a new dual degree program agreement signed by officials at Atlantic Cape Community College and Richard Stockton College at Stockton Thursday.
Under the agreement, students would enroll at Atlantic Cape as dual degree students. They would complete their associate degree at Atlantic Cape, then be guaranteed transfer admission to Stockton with all 64 of their Atlantic Cape credits accepted. The new agreement streamlines the current process, which requires county college students to apply separately to Stockton.
“This program will ease the transfer and admission processes and provide credit to Atlantic Cape for work completed there before transferring to Stockton College,” Stockton president Herman J. Saatkamp said.
The new program will be available for the 2012-13 school year. Students already enrolled at Atlantic Cape who who have at least 32 credits may also be considered for the program, but must complete the dual degree program form available at both Atlantic Cape and Stockton.
Both colleges will monitor the academic performance of students in the program.
Art Wexler, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Atlantic Cape said the program targets students who may have wanted to go to Stockton but were not admitted, and students who are attending Atlantic Cape but whose goal is to get a bachelor’s degree from Stockton.
Students who start at Atlantic Cape could also transfer to Stockton after earning at least 64 credits, and could apply Stockton credits toward an associate degree at Atlantic Cape in addition to their bachelor’s degree.
“It gives them that second credential, so even if they don’t complete their bachelor’s degree, they still have an associate degree,” Wexler said.
There is no limit to the number of students who can participate, but they must register as dual degree students and meet all of the program criteria for both colleges, including maintaining a minimum 2.7 grade point average. The colleges will have designated counselors and a special Stockton orientation.
“In effect it is a clean slate for students,” said Stockton Dean of Enrollment Management John Iacovelli. He said of the 6,186 students who applied to Stockton this year, 673 came from Atlantic County and 129 from Cape May County. About 56 percent of applicants are accepted for admission.
“Some may not have the grades, or decide they can’t afford a four-year college,” Iacovelli said. “If they make the grade at Atlantic Cape, they can still come here.”
Wexler said in the 2010-11 academic year 462 students transferred from Atlantic Cape to Stockton, but only 56 had first earned an associate degree.
The new dual program will also address a chronic problem of tracking graduation rates at community colleges. Since many students transfer before earning a degree, county colleges typically show a very low graduation rate. For 2010-11 Atlantic Cape had a graduation rate of 18 percent and a transfer rate of 14 percent.
Since the dual degree program would give students both the associate and bachelor degree, it would also boost Atlantic Cape’s graduation rate.
Stockton’s Saatkamp said it is a fair way for the community college and the students to get credit for their work at the two-year college.
“Right now, Atlantic Cape gets no credit for students who transfer here before graduating,” Saatkamp said.
The agreement is for five years, but is automatically renewed each year after that unless one party terminates the program. Students already in the program would be allowed to complete their degrees.