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KU, community colleges, K-12 schools partner to accelerate education path for KC students

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

OVERLAND PARK — High school students across the Kansas City metropolitan area have a new, accelerated path to a bachelor’s degree. Area school districts and community colleges joined the University of Kansas to formalize the Degree in 3 program during a signing event June 12 at the KU Edwards Campus.

Degree in 3 enables students from participating schools to earn a bachelor’s degree from an R1 research university in only three years. This new partnership potentially reduces students’ cost of earning a degree and accelerates their entrance into the Kansas City workforce or graduate school.

Degree in 3 partner institutions:

  • Blue Valley CAPS
  • Kansas City Kansas Public Schools Diploma+
  • Olathe 21st Century Academies
  • Shawnee Mission Signature Programs
  • Southland CAPS
  • Summit Technology Academy
  • Johnson County Community College
  • Kansas City Kansas Community College
  • Metropolitan Community College
  • KU Edwards Campus

Students earn college credits in high school, complete an associate's degree one year after graduating and complete an Edwards Campus bachelor’s degree two years later. Degree in 3 also gives Missouri students access to KUEC’s MetroRate.

“This is the kind of initiative that gets the leaders from all of these institutions in one room to make something happen,” said KUEC Vice Chancellor David Cook of Tuesday's gathering. “The reason why all of us do what we do is to better the student experience and provide access to education. Degree in 3 is a tremendous, collaborative effort that ultimately benefits the Kansas City community and workforce.”

Eric Fecteau, a 2017 Blue Valley West graduate, is furthest along in the Degree in 3 journey. He took concurrent Johnson County Community College courses during his senior year and will potentially graduate from KU with his bachelor's degree in business administration in December 2019, which would actually make his time a "Degree in 2.5." He works full-time, building his landscaping business, while taking classes.

With two older brothers, he saw the cost and time commitment that come with moving away for the traditional college experience.

“I realized there was a more cost-effective way to get the same degree in a shorter amount of time and keep doing what I’m doing,” Fecteau said. “I’m able to build my business and maintain my relationships close to home while pursuing my degree. I’m glad Degree in 3 was an option for me.”

Johnson County Community College President Joe Sopcich said he believes this innovative agreement will afford multiple benefits for students.

“By working together, in partnership with other education institutions, our students will continue to build upon a strong and resilient academic foundation and move quickly toward achieving their personal and professional goals,” Sopcich said. “This collaborative initiative is very rewarding because it provides impactful opportunities that will transform the lives of young adults and, in turn, strengthen our communities throughout the metro area.”

Degree in 3 has grown in the three years since its inception. With more partners, awareness and the formalization of the program, its effect is widespread.

“The opportunity for students to be part of the KU Degree in 3 program will positively change the trajectory of students' college and career path,” said Elaine Metcalf, principal of Summit Technology Academy. “Any time education institutions come together to figure out a plan that leads to degree completion and less college debt is a win-win situation. Summit Technology Academy is glad to be named among the six K-12 schools in this outstanding partnership.”

See a Facebook Live recording of the event here.

About The University of Kansas

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. Its mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The KU Edwards Campus at 127th Street and Quivira Road in Overland Park brings the high-quality academic, professional and continuing education programs as well as research and public-service benefits of KU to the Greater Kansas City community in order to serve the workforce, economic and community development needs of the region.

Top photo: Kenny Southwick, interim superintendent, Shawnee Mission School District; Cheryl Reichert, director, Raytown Quality Schools; Jessica Dain, assistant superintendent, Olathe Public Schools; Dennis Carpenter, superintendent, Lee's Summit R-7 School District; Cynthia Lane, superintendent, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools; Todd White, superintendent, Blue Valley Schools; Kimberly Beatty, chancellor, Metropolitan Community College; Greg Mosier, president, Kansas City Kansas Community College; Joe Sopcich, president, Johnson County Community College; and David Cook, vice chancellor, KU  Edwards Campus (KUEC), sign a proclamation formalizing the Degree in 3 program on June 12 at KUEC in Overland Park. 
Right photo: Eric Fecteau, a 2017 graduate from Blue Valley West High School and Degree in 3 student in the Bachelor of Business Administration program, shares with the crowd the importance of this program for area students and how it will change lives.