COLUMBUS, Ohio - Teaching institutions across central Ohio are reaching back to a basic lesson of kindergarten: It's nice to share.
After decades competing, area colleges and universities, public and private schools, and others are launching a cooperative agreement aimed at boosting the percentage of adults with college degrees or certificates from 44 percent to 60 percent by 2025.
Nearly 6 in 10 Ohio jobs will require a postsecondary credential by 2020.
For students, the agreement could mean more college course offerings in high school, less remedial work and easier credit transfers between colleges.
The Columbus metropolitan area has one of the largest per capita college student populations of any big city nationwide, said David Harrison, Columbus State Community College president and a leading figure in developing the compact. That includes Ohio State University, among the nation's largest universities.
"If we can capture that in a way that makes us the best college-educated region in the country -- move toward completion not just enrollment -- and we can develop an ecosystem here that has enough attractive job opportunities so that those students are staying, then together we become a net importer of talent," Harrison said. "And if we can keep that talent here, that's how we become the most competitive region in the world."
Participating institutions -- urban, suburban and rural -- plan to share resources and data, dovetail course offerings and boost communications with families to improve high school graduation and college entry rates.
A key goal is improving high school graduates' readiness for college. The so-called remediation gap is wide and many graduates require make-up courses that don't count toward their degree or certificate -- slowing their progress and sometimes discouraging them from continuing.
More professional and technical certificate programs will also be developed in conjunction with area businesses to prepare recipients for area jobs.
The agreement is not legally binding, but participating institutions in Franklin, Delaware, Madison, Union and Licking counties view it as positive for many reasons. Those include increasing college enrollment, attracting scholars and budding professionals to the region and boosting the economy, cutting costs to the institutions and to families, and creating a buzz around completion of a college degree or certificate that they hope will be contagious.
The school board in Reynoldsburg was set to be the first to vote on the agreement Tuesday. Other participating institutions will be presenting the compact to their boards over the next two months, winding up with Ohio State on Nov. 9.
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