Tennessee to launch campaign to get adults back in college

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is preparing to launch a $1 million advertising campaign to encourage adults who dropped out of college to go back and get their degrees.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/1mJs4Hw ) ads on billboards, the television and the radio will begin in January to promote Tennessee's Reconnect and Complete initiative. It seeks to reach 110,000 Tennesseans between the ages of 25 and 64 who dropped out of college after 2007 and were more than halfway to a degree when they left.

Reconnect and Complete is part of Gov. Bill Haslam's Drive to 55 campaign that aims to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees and certificates to 55 percent by the year 2025.

College representatives meeting this fall got added training on the best ways to work with adult students, who often balance families and jobs with their education. Each state college also has put a staff member in charge of outreach to adults.

Schools are also reaching out to former students who are only a handful of credits away from graduation.

Haslam said reaching adult drop-outs is more difficult than reaching the high school students targeted by Tennessee Promise, another Drive to 55 program that offers last-dollar scholarships to community and technical colleges.

"How do we get that 40-year-old single mother of two back to school?" Haslam asked. "We don't have that problem solved yet because that's a lot more difficult, but I think you'll see us turning our focus to that in the next couple of years."

In addition to recruiting adults for college, outreach workers will being talking to middle school students this spring about Tennessee Promise. That's because research shows the earlier students start to think about college the more successful they are.

"There are so many students that are already counting themselves out of college when they're in high school or in middle school," said Mike Krause, executive director of Tennessee Promise and the Drive to 55. "To give them a direction to walk and a light to walk toward, that makes a difference in their daily decisions as a student."

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