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In a city with high attainment rates, a focus on supporting returning adults

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The greater region of Hartford, Connecticut is a well-educated one with strong national rankings, but the MetroHartford Alliance, which focuses on public policy and economic development in the Hartford region, still works to address gaps in higher education for its community.

"We still have an enormous number of people that for whatever reason started and stopped college," says John Shemo, Vice President and Director of Economic Development at the MetroHartford Alliance. "We set out to help those folks who stopped out and are looking to come back."
This is done through their Graduate CT program, modeled after Graduate Philadelphia. Graduate CT has been operating for about three years now and has so far helped a little over 200 people return to school (though they've touched many more than that; Shemo notes that the gestation period can be long from the point of initial discussions to the actual return). Connecticut's  strong business and corporate community also wants to get people back in school; Hartford-based United Technologies Corporation has one of the most substantial tuition reimbursement programs in the country, if not world, at $1 billion annually.
Graduate CT provides college and career counseling services every step of the way for people interested in returning to school. They help returning students identify their career goals, find the right schools that best meet their goals, transfer prior credits, receive financial advice, even find adequate day care.

"So many things get in the way," Shemo states. "Life gets in the way. We do whatever we can do to get them back to school."
Long-term, Shemo would like for the program to not have to exist anymore.

"If students stay in school, they won't need to go back," he states, which is why a major focus now is on keeping kids in school in the first place.
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