Finish@UT allows students chance to complete degree

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Students who did not complete their degree at the University of Texas now have the opportunity to obtain an online degree from three UT system schools.

The University of Texas Board of Regents approved the Finish@UT program for launch at UT-El Paso, UT-Arlington and UT-Permian Basin this spring. The program targets adult students ages 25-35 who have UT college credit but did not finish due to extraneous circumstances. University Vice Chancellor Martha Ellis said the UT system wanted to give the estimated 3.4 million adults in Texas with incomplete degrees the opportunity to finish their college education.

Ellis said the program has been in development for about three years and currently has more than one hundred students enrolled. She said Finish@UT is a breakthrough program for UT because it allows students to take classes online at campuses close to home, but also allows them to enroll in online courses at participating UT system schools. Ellis said students can also design their degree and choose their classes based on their past credit.

Ellis said the program will extend to cover UT-Brownsville in the future, but there are no plans to make it available at UT-Austin.

“One of the things that you find is that offering undergraduate degrees online at UT is not a major part of their mission,” she said. “At this particular time with limited resources they have chosen to focus on other hybrid programs and new technology.”

UT-Permian Basin participant Amy Lay said before Finish@UT came into existence she was unwilling to spend her time at institutions that did not have a solid online program in place. Lay had 104 attempted hours in English courses when she came into Finish@UT and chose to apply her hours to a degree in humanities, which only requires 54 additional hours.

“I spent many years working with research and the demonstration of environmental and architectural sustainability instead of following the commonly prescribed method of attaining the college degree first after high school graduation,” Lay said.

“Now I am back at the beginning, but with amplified perspective.”

Lay said she felt not completing her degree sometimes impeded her from getting a job.

J. Blake Carpenter, UT-Arlington Finish@UT advisor, said the institution has several students who request online courses specifically and responded very well to the program.

“Students like having the convenience of taking courses around their work schedules,” Carpenter said. “Some of our students have moved to other locations due to military service or relocations for employment. This allows them to continue their studies here at UT-Arlington and earn their degree from here.”