Student Success Takes Center Stage as a New Approach Takes Hold

A major change in how Southern Nevada’s students earn their college degrees is underway as the region’s Nevada System of Higher Education institutions join forces to see that more of our students have access to a college degree, get the appropriate help needed to earn that degree, and are guided on what their next steps should be to finish the degree on time and start their careers. 

The need for this change is critical as an ever-increasing number of jobs nationally and in Nevada will require postsecondary education in the coming years. 

 Members of the media are invited to join officials from the Governor’s Office, the Southern Nevada mayors’ offices, institutions within the Nevada System of Higher Education, and the United Way of Southern Nevada at a press conference announcing these exciting developments scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, November 20. 

New students will soon begin to experience a different approach to going to college. Strategies fall within the nationally recognized guided pathways approach and include the implementation of meta majors, proactive academic and career advising, math and English remediation reform and much more. Students won’t be on their own as they work to figure out what they want to study, how their college goals align to local workforce needs, how to finish their degrees or certificates as quickly as possible, and how to clear the hurdles they’ll face along the way. 

 Two separate national designations have just been bestowed upon Southern Nevada – one from Lumina Foundation and another from Complete College America – and both are allowing the NSHE institutions to aggressively launch these pathway strategies, which have been proven to work in other communities where they’ve been implemented. 

“With the support of Lumina Foundation and the evidence-based strategies of Complete College America, our Southern Nevada institutions are poised to close equity gaps and generate significant gains in college completion rates for the students in our Southern Nevada metro region,” said Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly. “The strategies associated with this pathways approach are directly in line with the strategic plan goals that were adopted this year by the Nevada Board of Regents.” 

Complete College America’s recent designation of Southern Nevada as a Metro Momentum Pathways region comes with a technical assistance grant that is valued at over $500,000. This will help CSN, Nevada State College and UNLV partner to deliver a new kind of student experience, focusing on helping students navigate academic pathways that lead to real careers, streamlined transfer pathways between our colleges and universities as well as graduate school opportunities in the region. Many of these strategies are already in place on a limited scale; they are about to be expanded. These include the 15 to Finish campaign, math and English remediation reform, proactive academic/career advising and term-by-term academic maps that help lead the way to timely graduation. 

 
“Leaders in Nevada are fully committed to strengthening the state’s economy and closing the skills gap by ensuring more residents earn degrees and credentials of value,” said Complete College America Senior Vice President Bruce Vandal. “CCA is proud to support Nevada with statewide implementation of our student success strategies and now with the launch of a new initiative in Las Vegas, focused on significantly increasing degree attainment in metropolitan areas. These efforts will have a dramatic effect on social mobility and overall quality of life for Nevadans.” 
 
Lumina Foundation, in partnerships with the Kresge Foundation, supports the United Way of Southern Nevada through the recent designation of Las Vegas as a Talent Hub, one of only 24 in the nation. The award will allow United Way of Southern Nevada to partner with CSN to bolster proactive academic and career advising, apprenticeship and other work-based learning programs, and further its community outreach, particularly among African Americans, Hispanics and low-income populations, who historically have lower college completion rates than white or Asian students. Talent Hubs are focused on raising the nation’s overall post-high school attainment level to 60 percent of working-age adults by 2025. The Las Vegas area Talent Hub is a partnership between CSN, the Nevada System of Higher Education, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation for a New Nevada and the United Way of Southern Nevada. 
“We have added to the growing roster of top-flight cities committed to meeting the demands for an educated workforce,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. 
“The Talent Hub designation serves both as an aspirational target for other cities and a foundation from which cities designated as Talent Hubs can build.”
 
The purpose behind these changes is twofold: First, to help students succeed in college. But more than that, each student who succeeds in college is an asset to the Southern Nevada community. The goal is to help all of Nevada, one graduating class at a time. 
 
The numbers show that such efforts are essential in Nevada. The Silver State ranks third in the nation for job growth, while ranking second-to-last in higher education attainment and last in college readiness. Simply put: Not enough Nevadans are finishing college. 
 
Right now, 54 percent of jobs in Nevada require some form of postsecondary education and only about 30 percent of adults have this education. With the majority of our job growth being in middle to high-skill occupations and industries (by 2020, 49 percent of all job openings in Nevada are predicted to be middle skill jobs), it is critical that we support our labor supply and its pipeline to not only meet labor demands, but to ensure that higher education can be a great equalizer, lifting our most vulnerable residents out of poverty in a sustainable and transformational way. 
 
“We are proud to be partners as this is a unique opportunity to ensure students are attaining relevant credentials, and have the skills, knowledge, and experiences to be successful in such a dynamic labor-market” said Manny Lamarre, Executive Director of OWINN.