As she approaches graduation this spring at age 35, Utah Valley University student Nicolle Johnson credits a relationship with a prominent researcher for keeping her on track.
“I had key mentors in my life who have made a difference and pushed me along in healthy and productive ways,” said Johnson, a member of a task force that explored why Utah women don’t finish college and what to do about it. “It is absolutely imperative that we include mentoring programs, otherwise the minority students are not going to complete at the rates we want them to.”
Utah must act to reverse the widening gap between men’s and women’s rates of college attainment if the state hopes to reach its education goals, according to findings of the Utah Women’s College Task Force, presented Tuesday to the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission. Recommendations include boosting the state’s “college-going culture” by expanding counseling services, buttressing existing initiatives that support women, creating flexible course offerings, and finding new ways to maintain college credits during long gaps in education.
The group’s findings are punctuated by a six-percentage-point difference between the portion of Utah men with bachelor’s degrees (32 percent) compared to women (26 percent).