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Education
Apr 16, 2018

Helping Students Get Back on the Path to Degree Completion

Sponsored Content provided by Aswani Volety - Dean, UNCW College of Arts and Sciences

Every student’s academic journey is different.

Many earn their undergraduate degree in the traditional timeframe, but for some, unforeseen financial issues, illness, family obligations and myriad other obstacles push them off the path to completing their degree program.

Often, a student leaves the university to address these types of issues with the intention of returning, but life gets in the way and as the months go by, completing his or her college career becomes less of a possibility or a priority.
Without an undergraduate degree, these individuals are at a disadvantage in the marketplace. According to the Economic Policy Institute, college graduates, on average, earned 56 percent more than high school graduates in 2015, up 51 percent since 1999. This data indicates the largest earnings disparity on record and incredible economic implications for non-degree holders.

In partnership with UNCW’s Office of Undergraduate Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences recently launched an initiative designed to assist former UNCW students who may fall into this category, having left the university before completing their program of study. The Seahawk Success Program developed from a shared concern across the university for students who “stop out.”

The program supports these individuals in reaching their academic and professional goals by helping them navigate the re-enrollment process. Potential students are connected with an advisor who can help determine the best degree completion pathway before the individual formally reapplies. Distance education, hybrid courses and new curriculum options have increased accessibility and made degree completion more achievable.

A Seahawk Success Advisor can identify and recommend these options to returning students, answer questions and help address concerns. Almost 50 potential students have already expressed interest in utilizing the program as the first step to completing their degree.

“It is fantastic that UNCW faculty and staff across the university, especially in the College of Arts and Sciences, where our effort is centered, have been so willing to give that extra level of personal support and encouragement, helping people return to the goals and dreams they had before they stepped back from study,” said Paul Townend, Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean for Undergraduate Studies. “We are really making a difference for students here.”

UNCW is committed to student-focused education and attracting and retaining high-quality, diverse students. Retention is critical. To really ensure student success, we must increase graduation rates and position our graduates to be competitive in the workforce. By helping former students return to UNCW and complete their degree, the Seahawk Success Program is increasing their employment prospects and opportunities for advancement in their current fields.

To qualify for the Seahawk Success Program, an individual must have been previously enrolled as a degree-seeking student at UNCW, have at least 70 hours of college credit, be in good academic, disciplinary and financial standing, and have been unaffiliated with the university for at least one year.

Click here for more information about the Seahawk Success Program or contact Daniella Murray, Seahawk Success Outreach Coordinator, at (910) 362-7232. The application deadline for fall 2018 is July 15; the deadline for spring 2019 is Nov. 15.

Aswani Volety, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology. Volety earned a Ph.D. in marine science from the College of William & Mary, and a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Andhra University. The College of Arts and Sciences is UNCW’s largest academic unit, employing over 450 full-time and 150 part-time faculty members and awarding approximately three quarters of the university’s academic credits. Volety serves as the chief academic, fiscal and administrative officer of the college, which is responsible for educating students across the arts, sciences, humanities and social sciences, and includes the UNCW Center for Marine Science. Volety is also the current president of the Southern Association of Marine Labs.To learn more about the UNCW College of Arts and Sciences, visit www.uncw.edu/cas. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].

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