NIU and Harper College recently achieved a milestone as the first students graduated from degree completion programs offered through the University Center at Harper College.
Nineteen students are now proud Huskie alumni thanks to the partnership. Nine students graduated with degrees in psychology and computer science with one student earning a degree in marketing.
Also impressive is the academic record of recent graduates. Of the 18 students who graduated with degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, six graduated with 4.0 GPAs and eight graduated with GPAs above 3.5.
“I am extremely proud of the wonderful collaboration between NIU and Harper and the goals we help our students achieve,” said NIU President Lisa C. Freeman. “I look forward to celebrating more graduates from this partnership and seeing them succeed in their careers.”
Launched in Fall 2019, the University Center at Harper College is an exclusive partnership between Harper College, NIU, DePaul University, and Roosevelt University that provides a unique opportunity to earn an associate’s and bachelor’s degree at the Harper campus. This pathway helps increase the number of bachelor’s degree holders while reducing the overall cost. NIU offers bachelor’s degree programs in computer science, psychology, and marketing.
The Center meets students wherever they are geographically, attracting students who might not traditionally consider partner institutions due to balancing jobs and other responsibilities. Students enrolled in NIU programs at the University Center are eligible for scholarships and have access to the same student services as those who attend classes at DeKalb.
As of the spring semester, NIU had 112 students enrolled in the degree programs offered through the University Center. Student retention has continued at over 90% since the fall 2019 first semester.
“This program has grown as a result of collaboration between Harper College and many units within NIU,” said Ron Smith, Director of Community College Partnerships. “We would not have reached this milestone without the support of our faculty and advisors from the College of Business, College of Arts and Sciences as well as the Admissions Office.”
“Transfer admissions counselor Brenda Powell has worked tirelessly on the front lines and assisted Harper’s students throughout the admissions process,” Smith added.
Smith said that despite the challenges associated with the pandemic, interest in the program has remained steady while the number of inquiries is growing.
“Not every student plans to start right away,” Smith explained. Some students reach out to us early in their associate’s degree journey. We know that time, money and flexibility are key influencing factors in a student’s path to completing a bachelor’s degree and this partnership addresses all of these concerns head-on. “
Indeed, early inquiries are preferred, as it allows Harper advisors to work with the student to ensure that all required prerequisites are met, resulting in a smooth transition to NIU.
He added, “The advisors from Harper and NIU work very well together, and that translates to the success the students have had in our programs.” “This piece of partnership has to be built from the ground up.”
Ensuring University Center students have access to academic support services, such as the library and tutoring, is of paramount importance.
“We want to give students the tools they need to succeed,” Smith said.
NIU’s online courses have been exclusively due to the pandemic and will remain that way for Fall 2021. The University Center will resume a range of face-to-face and online courses for the Spring 2022 semester.