Earn on the way at UAA: Opening doors for secondary students

by Austin Osborne  |   

Computer Science majors Tristan Lee (left), Joseph Dela Rosa Jr. (center) and Victor Ang (right) hang out in the UAA spine after class.
Computer Science majors Tristan Lee (left), Joseph Dela Rosa Jr. (center) and Victor Ang (right) hang out in the UAA spine after class. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

As education continues to transform to meet the needs of students and the workforce, the University of Alaska Anchorage is always looking for opportunities to grow and adapt to better serve communities and the state. Most recently, UAA announced changes that will allow secondary students to earn credentials after completing the requirements for a certificate or degree while still in high school. 

“As Alaska’s largest workforce provider, it’s our job to find ways to help students achieve their goals by removing barriers to education attainment,” said Denise Runge, UAA provost. “In recent years, we’ve seen many industries face critical workforce shortages and one strategy we can implement is helping students gain the certifications and skills they need while still in high school. This is just one step we’re taking to ensure students are set up for success at every step of their education journey.”

With the expansion of middle college programs and other dual enrollment opportunities, some students are able to complete the course requirements for a certificate or associate degree before graduating high school. Although secondary students have always been able to apply coursework completed in high school toward credentials in the future, they were required to wait until they were formally admitted to UAA. To respond to a growing desire to recognize students’ accomplishments at the time of completion, UAA revisited processes and sought ways to meet this need.

“There are so many new and emerging trends in higher education, and many of these trends are making college more accessible to younger students eager to start working toward a degree or certificate,” said Lora Volden, UAA associate vice chancellor for enrollment services. “If a student completes the requirements for one of these programs, they should be able to earn the credential. Through innovative process improvements, we are able to make this a reality while remaining compliant for Title IV funding.”

In 2018, UAA created an Earn on the Way program enabling students pursuing a baccalaureate degree to submit an application to earn an occupational endorsement certificate, undergraduate certificate or associate degree while working toward their end goal. Previously, without admission to a degree program, students could not apply to receive the credential even if they had completed the necessary coursework.

“We want to recognize the important milestones students achieve on the road to degree completion,” said Volden. “We also know our students have busy lives with competing priorities. It was important to us that if a student had to step away from school they could still walk away with a credential. We knew it was also important to recognize secondary students’ achievements, and expanding the existing Earn on the Way program achieves this for that population of students.” 

High school students interested in taking courses through UAA can visit the secondary students webpage. To learn more or submit an application, visit the Earn on the Way page.


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