ADVANCE pathway widens to more than 1,000 students

George Mason University’s ADVANCE Program, a transfer partnership with Northern Virginia Community College, added 420 students for the spring semester, pushing the program’s enrollment to more than 1,000 in just its second year.

In addition, more than 50 students in the program have now matriculated from NOVA to Mason through the ADVANCE Program, a streamlined transfer partnership that aligns financial aid, advising and other student services across 102 pathways to a degree.

The 420 students new this spring join the nearly 400 who began in the program last fall, exceeding enrollment expectations for the initial years of the program, said Ashlie Prioleau, ADVANCE’s executive director.

“It is incredible that in such a short time ADVANCE has opened the door for so many students to earn a bachelor’s degree,” Prioleau said. “We aren’t just exceeding our enrollment goals or building a national model, we are changing the lives of real people, families, and their future generations.”

Through the ADVANCE pathway, all NOVA classes count toward Mason degree requirements, shortening the time and cost of earning a four-year degree. Success coaches serve ADVANCE students at both NOVA and Mason for a more seamless transfer experience.

Soon, Northern Virginia high school students also will have the opportunity to join the ADVANCE Program. Mason and NOVA this week announced an Early College Pathway for students at Mount Vernon High School in Fairfax County. Beginning in the 2020-21 academic year, juniors and seniors will be able to earn dual enrollment college credits at no cost while completing high school courses in English, history, math, political science, early childhood careers, theater and cybersecurity.

ADVANCE has attracted attention throughout the country. In October, the program received the John N. Gardner Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award. Education Dive named ADVANCE the Partnership of the Year for its four-year cloud computing degree pathway with Amazon Web Services. That program will launch in fall 2020.

Cited by the Chronicle of Higher Education as “one of the nation’s most successful transfer partnerships,” the ADVANCE Program has received more than $1 million in scholarship funds from the Northrop Grumman Foundation and Micron Technology Foundation. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation pledged $150,000 last fall to provide scholarship support for high-achieving ADVANCE students with financial need.