Emily Elmore described herself as a “really bad student” at Ivy Tech Bloomington — in fact, she even failed out of the community college at one point. Now, several years later, she’s an Ivy Tech faculty member.
In addition to re-enrolling at Ivy Tech, what helped her turn around her academic and professional career and stay on track was her smooth transition from getting an associate degree from Ivy Tech to getting a bachelor’s degree at Purdue Global, an online university that’s part of the Purdue University system. Instead of studying for another four years to get her bachelor’s, Elmore could use the credits from her associate degree and remove two years from the normal process.
“It was super simple. I think I was all ready to go within a few days of applying for the college,” Elmore said.
Her ability to study online at Purdue Global also made it easier for her to simultaneously work 40 hours a week as a medical assistant. After getting her bachelor’s degree in health care administration last year, she was able to land a job overseeing Ivy Tech’s Medical Assisting Program.
To help more students like Elmore, Purdue Global and Ivy Tech announced a new program earlier this month focused on some of the roughly 350,000 Indiana adults who have some college credit but haven’t obtained a degree, according to last year’s Indiana College Completion Report. Their new Pathways Partnership between the two sizable institutions allows for the “unrestricted transfer” and use of Ivy Tech students’ associate degrees and credits towards Purdue Global bachelor’s degree, they announced in a statement.
The new partnership builds on a longstanding arrangement between Ivy Tech and Purdue Global designed to ease student transfers from one to the other. In addition, the Pathways Partnership will award Ivy Tech Achievement Scholarships to students who earn their associate degrees; the scholarship can be applied toward their tuition for most programs at Purdue Global.
The Pathways Partnership also establishes a tuition incentive for Ivy Tech employees to attend Purdue Global.
Ivy Tech Provost Dean McCurdy said the partnership will increase access to higher education for all Hoosiers.
“For all the Hoosiers out there with some college credit or who have always wanted to earn a college degree, our Ivy Tech and Purdue Global Pathways Partnership provides the support and opportunities to use life experience and credits earned to accelerate the timeline and lower the cost to complete a degree,” McCurdy said in a June 12 statement announcing the Pathways Partnership.
Purdue Global Provost Jon Harbor also said that “this is a partnership best practice that goes beyond removing barriers for students.”
The announcement dovetails with ongoing concerns that affordability and other barriers are driving down the college-going rate of Indiana’s high school graduates. Last year, the state said the percentage of students in Indiana’s 2020 high school class who went on to higher education dipped to 53%, which was 12 percentage points lower than five years before.
Ivy Tech describes itself as the state’s largest postsecondary institution, as well as the “largest singly accredited statewide community college system” in the nation. It served about 177,100 students in the 2022-23 academic year. Purdue Global has roughly 32,500 students enrolled.
The relationship between Ivy Tech and Purdue Global has already benefited Charlie Pendragon, who currently works in health care as a patient care tech and owns his own business. Pendragon, who uses he/him and they/them pronouns interchangeably, first went to Ivy Tech Bloomington after high school, then transferred to Indiana University Bloomington.
As his career plans changed and he experienced health issues, he decided to drop out in 2017. But in 2021, they went back to Ivy Tech to gain their associate degree in general studies with a specialization in entrepreneurship. Now, Pendragon is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health sciences at Purdue Global. In the future, they hope to be a physician assistant.
Like Elmore, Pendragon said the main appeal of Ivy Tech and Purdue Global’s relationship is the seamless transfer of credits.
“Most other schools, I was going to have to start from scratch on almost everything,” Pendragon said. “And at 26, I did not want to have to start all over.”
Pendragon said out of the institutions he’s attended, Purdue Global has been the most accommodating healthwise.
“It feels like, for the first time, a four-year degree is attainable for me,” Pendragon said.
Elmore and Pendragon said their experience showed them that individuals who have started studying at Ivy Tech, but had to stop for whatever reason, shouldn’t feel discouraged.
“It’s worth at least looking into, and having those conversations with advisors, registrar and financial aid to see if it’s something that you feel is doable,” Pendragon said. “For people who already have an associate’s degree and are thinking about transferring to Purdue Global, I’d say do it. There’s no harm in at least trying.”
Jade Thomas is a summer reporting intern covering education in the Indianapolis area. Contact Jade at email@example.com.