Letters: Colleges adjusting to different student needs

Published March 1, 2013

College degree's value is changing | Feb. 24

Colleges adjusting to student needs

Robert Trigaux's column last weekend on the college degree becoming the new high school diploma speaks to one of the many reasons colleges and universities are being challenged to adapt to this new economy. The vast majority of students attending colleges and universities today is not the traditional student who enters college right after graduating from high school and goes straight through to degree completion as a full-time student supported by mom and dad. In fact, something like 75 percent of students in colleges and universities are what we now call post-traditional learners. They are working full- or part-time, have family obligations, are supporting themselves, dealing with life's inevitable changes, and are likely to have attended more than one institution of higher learning.

In our Continuing Studies program at the University of Tampa, it is not unusual for adult students to come to us with three or more transcripts from previously attended institutions. Our intention is to see these post-traditional learners through to degree attainment, but many must leave before that goal is reached at our university. And many can take only a few classes at a time, so degree attainment for them usually takes longer than a traditional student. Evaluating universities on the percentage of students who complete their degree in less than six years, a traditional measurement of success, denies recognition of the changing student population in America's higher education institutions. Getting a college degree in four or even six years is an admirable goal, but it's an outdated and largely irrelevant metric that is based on expectations and perceptions of the college experience that are now only real for a small percentage of college-attending students.

As educators and administrators, our mission is to help move all students, traditional and post-traditional, to degree completion as rapidly as possible, no matter how long it does take, without diluting the value of the college degree. That's what employers want, and it's what our students need to be competitive in our ever-changing job market.

Gary L. Simon, Tampa

Dr. Simon is the director of adult programs and a lecturer in marketing at the University of Tampa.

Nuclear plant problems

Corporations need oversight

Seems to me these two articles (As Duke reels, FPL wins with natural gas and Six tanks leaking waste at Hanford nuclear site Feb. 24) should have been placed side by side. The Crystal River nuclear plant was shut down, where will the nuclear waste go? In Yakima, Wash., there are leaks. "No immediate threat," but there will be in time.

The wells have not been detected as "having higher radioactivity levels." Higher means there are already levels there in groundwater but "just" haven't increased?

Follow trends affecting the local economy

Follow trends affecting the local economy

Subscribe to our free Business by the Bay newsletter

We’ll break down the latest business and consumer news and insights you need to know every Wednesday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

FPL has gone a different route with natural gas. How much longer are the congressional representatives going to allow this country to be poisoned by what we are allowing now? Six leaking tanks because of the antiquated storage system. When will the other waste sites start or have already started to poison our environment?

Private companies allowed to go uncontrolled, little to no oversight. Having been switched to different power companies three times, I still find the Withlacoochee Electric Power Cooperative the best. I do not have a choice who supplies my power, but I don't like it being with a company gouging customers to further accumulate toxic waste. The children of today will pay the price when they are grown.

Christina Ennist, New Port Richey