During the pandemic, Shasta College gave a large number of former students a welcome bit of good news through a program called “Degrees When Due,” or DWD for short. The program team responsible for DWD awarded 258 degrees to students who had earned a degree (or degrees) but hadn’t realized it when attending college. In addition to awarding degrees to deserving students, the college also invited many students back who were extremely close to crossing the finish line for a degree or credential.
The program team spent months reviewing student records from the last five years, searching for students who had completed the requirements needed but who had left Shasta College before receiving a degree. While reviewing the thousands of records, the staff noticed a trend—many students, about 13% of those reviewed, only required one course to graduate—a one-unit computer literacy course. After reviewing the course curriculum, the college’s Academic Senate removed that requirement for past and future students. Of those students evaluated, over 40% received a degree.
As a result of the DWD efforts, Shasta College has implemented new policies to award students degrees once they’ve earned them. Degree audits are now built-in to the Admissions and Records process to check for students who have reached degree thresholds. Counselors and staff let students know about reverse transfer options that allow students to count coursework completed at a 4-year university towards a degree they may have started at Shasta College. The college is also working on a process that will automatically notify students when they have completed a degree or credential so it can be conferred when earned. This “opt-out” degree conferral policy removes the barrier of students having to remember when and how to apply for a degree.
Shasta College Superintendent/President, Dr. Joe Wyse, praised the DWD effort, saying, “The DWD project has helped support our former students during these challenging times and rewards them for the work that they’ve accomplished. Our future and current students will also benefit from the new policies put in place from the DWD effort designed to reduce barriers in certificate and degree attainment.” Said Dr. Wyse.
Dr. Tim Johnston, AVP of Student Services, commented on the DWD benefit to students, saying, “One of the most significant benefits has been the extended impact that earning a degree has on more than just the student. We heard from several students about how important completing a degree has been for their children and family members. When a parent receives a degree, the impact on the family is felt for generations.”
Student, Carolyn Feyling, was notified through the DWD efforts that she had earned a degree. Her reaction, “Earning my associates degree puts a smile on my face because I worked hard earning it. The education that I have learned can be applied to both my professional and personal life.”