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Juniata, Penn Highlands Collaborate on Degree Program

(Posted June 13, 2011)

John Hille, executive vice president for enrollment and retention

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- High school students interested in reducing their costs for a four-year bachelor's degree can do so by participating in the Joint Enrollment Program, a collaborative agreement between Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and Juniata, that gives students the opportunity to earn an associate's degree at Penn Highlands and then seamlessly transfer to Juniata to complete a bachelor's degree.

"The Joint Enrollment Program is intended for high school students seeking a four-year pathway to a college degree but who need a high-quality, less expensive alternative for their first two years of study," explains John Hille, executive vice president for enrollment and retention at Juniata. "After two years, the students for whom Juniata is the right choice ultimately can continue on to earn a bachelor's degree."

The two institutions finalized the agreement May 23 as Penn Highlands President Walter Asonevich and Juniata College President Thomas R. Kepple signed a contract giving area students the opportunity to receive an estimate of the total costs for four years of financial aid to both institutions, receive faculty advising from both colleges, which in turn will enhance each student's potential for obtaining internships or studying abroad.

Students who enroll in the "2 + 2" program can see the costs of a four-year degree greatly reduced. Juniata College and Penn Highlands Community College will continue to set tuition, fees and financial aid awards independently, but because the Joint Enrollment Program students will be attending their first two years at the community college, the overall costs for a four-year Juniata degree are markedly lower for those who take part in the program.

Currently, Juniata and Penn Highlands have a department-to-department agreement for accounting and business administration degrees that offers some of the same benefits, with the exception of being pre-admitted to Juniata and receiving a four-year financial aid estimate.

"The Joint Enrollment Program is intended for high school students seeking a four-year pathway to a college degree but who need a high-quality, less expensive alternative for their first two years of study. After two years, the students for whom Juniata is the right choice ultimately can continue on to earn a bachelor's degree."
John Hille, executive vice president, Juniata College

The "2+2" plan is expected to apply to all of Juniata's academic programs (including business administration and accounting) except biology and chemistry.

"A 2+2 agreement offers one or more ways to promote students seamlessly transferring from the community college to the baccalaureate program with a firm commitment to complete the degree in a total of four years," Hille explains. "There are a number of four-year colleges and community colleges that have some type of 2+2 plan, such as the agreements between Erie Community College and Medaille College, Maricopa Community College and Northern Arizona University, and the Community College of Allegheny County and California University of Pennsylvania. Most of these type of agreements do not offer the number of significant benefits to students as the Penn Highlands-Juniata agreement."

Students in the Joint Enrollment Program would:

--Know their total costs in advance for earning an associate and then a bachelor's degree, if they choose to.

--Have faculty advisers at both colleges to coordinate an educational plan that ensures the student will graduate in four years.

--If the student opts to transfer to Juniata, the community college student will receive priority in registration and room assignment for residence halls.

--All transfer credits through the program will be accepted at Juniata.

--Find more opportunities for internships, both local and away from the Huntingdon area.

--Have an opportunity to study abroad.

If a prospective high school student is accepted into the Joint Enrollment Program, the student can opt to enter Juniata immediately or attend Penn Highlands for two years. If the student is accepted at Penn Highlands but denied acceptance at Juniata, the student can start at Penn Highlands and apply for admission to Juniata (if the student's academic record justifies it) after one or more years.

"I believe the first major joint enrollment group will come to Juniata in fall 2012," Hille estimates. "We have yet to create web content for the program and our promotional materials are just now coming out, but in the meantime, students enrolling at Penn Highlands under normal admissions are eligible for a simplified transfer to Juniata."

Both Edward C. "Ted" Nichols, vice president and dean, academic affairs at Penn Highland's campus in Johnstown, and Hille agree that the chemistry and biology curriculum at Penn Highlands is not extensive enough to make a joint enrollment degree in those disciplines possible. In time, Penn Highlands may be able to expand its curriculum so that both disciplines can be included in the Joint Enrollment Program.

"As far as we know this is the only agreement of this type between a Top 100 liberal arts institution and a strong regional partner," Hille says. "The '2+2' program is well-suited for this type of educational path, thanks in large part to Juniata's Program of Emphasis, which allows students to follow pre-defined programs of study or to collaborate with faculty to define a course of study that combines several areas of interest."

"Penn Highlands and Juniata both saw a clear need to reduce college costs for students and families," Nichols says. "This program will enable more qualified young people to pursue two-year and four-year degrees. We are seeing that the global marketplace requires a more highly educated, adaptable and technically skilled workforce. The Joint Enrollment Program offers an exciting opportunity to earn an associate degree with a trusted community partner and complete a bachelor's degree with a respected national leader in liberal arts education.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.