MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 19, 2013

Degree program helps state


— Oklahoma legislators should help businesses that help employees go back to college and finish earning their degrees.

A program called Reach Higher has helped hundreds of working adults finish degrees.

Potential workers’ level of education is one thing business owners look for when they want to build or expand a business in our state.

Since 2007, the Reach Higher program has recorded 362 graduates, said Tim McElroy, the dean of NSU’s Muskogee campus.

That number includes 44 from NSU, McElroy said.

The program benefits both employer and employee.

Reach Higher literature says a college graduate could earn $1.1 million more than a high school graduate over a lifetime.

The employer gets an individual with better skills.

The state Legislature should try to help those employers who help their employees through Reach Higher.

The state could offer tax incentives to those employers who give time away from work or help pay for their employees’ tuition.

Oklahoma should do more to encourage citizens to get degrees.

The Legislature should help businesses who help their employees finish degrees.

A better educated Oklahoma is a better Oklahoma.

Reach Higher

Oklahoma’s degree completion program offers:

• An Associate in Arts or Associate in Science in enterprise development (general studies or business administration) designed for working adults who have earned at least 18 hours of college credit. The program is offered at 14 Oklahoma public community colleges and technical branches, including Connors State College.

• A Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership degree for working adults who have at least 72 hours of college credit. The program is offered at nine Oklahoma colleges, including Northeastern State University.

Info: Go to reachhigheroklahoma.org.