Congratulations. You have an associate degree. All that hard work has paid off.
If you’re like many, you’re ready for more after community college. After all, a four-year degree is the best ticket to prosperity, with pay averaging $400 per week more than those with two-year degrees, according to federal statistics. Within 10 years, the gap is closer to $25,000 per year.
And Michigan’s 14 independent colleges and universities are the fastest way to a four-year degree. That’s because they make it easier to transfer and most of their students actually graduate in four years rather than five or more at big state schools.
“Students often think transferring from community college is far more difficult than it really is,” one admissions officer said. “It’s even easier at Michigan independent colleges and universities.”
Time was, transferring was difficult, in large part because credits wouldn’t transfer, wasting time and money. Not anymore.
Not only do Michigan independent colleges and universities have admissions staffers specially trained to work with community college transfer students, recent state law has taken the guesswork — and subjectivity — out of the process.
The state Legislature passed laws in 2012 to make more community college core classes transferrable at four-year institutions statewide, a system known as the Michigan Transfer Agreement.
Transfer students to Michigan independents hit the ground running. On average, the percentage of students who graduate from independents in four years is nearly double that of public institutions, not only saving them a year of tuition but giving them an extra year of earnings in their careers.
And speaking of cost, the independents are among the most affordable in the Midwest. That’s because more than 93 percent of students receive financial aid, lowering advertised tuition and bringing actual costs on par with many public universities.
That means our education is not only priceless. It’s affordable too — one of many differences with traditional universities.
Unlike big state schools, class sizes are small and taught by incredible faculty who help students forge their own path. They have a deep and committed network of alumni who help after graduation. It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Community colleges are hot. Nationwide, some 7.3 million students attend them and, all told, they comprise nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.
Too often, though, they’re a final destination instead of a starting point. That’s in part due to misperceptions that credits are difficult to transfer to four-year colleges to obtain a bachelor degree.
Like a lot of stereotypes, it’s far from the truth, especially at Michigan’s top 14 colleges and independents.
Some of the best schools in Michigan, the independents are also some of the most welcoming to community college students, with specially trained admissions counselors who make what can be an intimidating transition a smooth one.
The difference between an associate and bachelor is huge. Start with pay: It’s $400 per week higher, on average, for those with bachelor degrees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And that’s just on average. The gap grows wider as careers progress. Within 10 years, the difference between an associate and bachelor pay grows to $25,000 per year on average.
And the Michigan independent colleges make it easier than ever to transfer. With that in mind, here are a few tips to consider.
- Plan ahead. Know which courses transfer for full credit. Check guides such as the ones operated by the Michigan Transfer Network or the Michigan Department of Education.
- Call ahead. Hook up with a counselor at one of the Michigan Colleges Alliance member colleges and universities. If you are early in your community college career, they can offer advice on classes to take, which to avoid and how to ease transfers.
- Get ahead. Meet regularly with advisers, keep them informed of transfer plans and make sure they are in touch their counterparts at transfer institutions. They get paid whether you use them or not. Use them.
No doubt. Transferring is a big endeavor. But it’s well worth it and will change your life for the better.
That’s because Michigan’s top 14 independent colleges are national leaders in education that help students chart a path to rewarding careers.
With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.
Often comparable in price to public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.