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September 27, 2013

Higher ed commish: 'College-going' culture a must

State higher ed commissioner says future careers require post-secondary education.

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana must develop more of a “college-going” culture because jobs of the 21st century require education and training beyond high school, Teresa Lubbers, Indiana’s Commissioner for Higher Education, said Tuesday.

Lubbers spoke at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as part of a College Success Summit. The event was hosted by the Vigo County College Success Coalition.

Indiana currently ranks 40th nationally in both educational attainment and personal per capita income, both directly linked to the fact that only a third of Hoosier adults have more than a high school diploma, according to the Commission for Higher Education.

Indiana has set a goal of increasing the proportion of Hoosiers with a college credential, including one-year workforce certificates, two-year associate degrees and four-year bachelor’s degrees, to 60 percent of the state’s population by 2025.

According to Lubbers, some mistakenly believe the Commission for Higher Education is focused only on four-year degrees and above. She said that is not the case.

About 130 people attended the summit, including representatives of the community’s five colleges, the Vigo County School Corp., Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. and college students.

Lubbers said that when she talks to high school students, she is blunt in telling them: “There is no career pathway for someone who drops out of high school.” Most who drop out will struggle and very likely live in poverty, she said.

The state has been redesigning its high school career and technology programs so students can graduate with a diploma and credentials that enable them to enter the workforce with an opportunity to advance.

Several speakers at the summit outlined programs or initiatives their institutions have undertaken. Ann Valentine, Ivy Tech-Wabash Valley chancellor, noted that the region partners with 30 school districts in dual-credit agreements.

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