National, state degree attainment of 60%?

Purdue University Calumet celebrates its 60th Commencement Exercises this spring. The nearly 700 graduates earning degrees in May increase to more than 43,500 the total number of Purdue degrees awarded to graduates of our campus.

While we are proud of the effect Purdue Calumet has had on Northwest Indiana, there’s plenty more work for us to do in the area of degree attainment.

The Lumina Foundation for Education made several noteworthy points in a recently published brief:

  • Over the past four decades, America’s associate and baccalaureate degree attainment rate of 40 percent has been relatively unchanged.
  • While America’s attainment rate has topped that of other nations during the past four decades, America now ranks 10th compared to other industrialized nations in degree attainment among 25-to-34-year-olds.
  • Attainment rates among those nations ahead of America are climbing; the U.S. rate has been relatively dormant.
  • Indiana ranks below the national attainment rate with one-third of 25-to-64-year-old Hoosiers claiming at least an associate degree; among 25-to-34-year-olds, the rate is modestly better at 36 percent.
  • Within the Northwest Indiana counties of Lake and Porter, the percent of 25-to-34-year-olds claiming at least an associate degree is 31 and 41, respectively.

So how should we respond to this data? The Lumina Foundation for Education has endorsed the national goal of 60 percent postsecondary degree attainment among Americans by 2025. If we agree that degree attainment is essential for America to provide an adaptable, well-prepared workforce for 21st century needs, then we must push forward.

Within Indiana, a well-prepared workforce goes a long way in establishing a healthy economic climate. With 22 percent of working-age Indiana adults already equipped with some college credit, the goal of degree attainment may be closer than we realize.

Add to the mix an increasing number of associate + baccalaureate degree articulation agreements (2 + 2) of the nature Ivy Tech Community College and Purdue Calumet recently signed in Computer Information Systems, and with focused commitment we can help Indiana achieve this milestone.


Howard Cohen