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Community Colleges Can Lead to a Bachelor’s Degree Track



By Catherine Groux
Posted July 18, 2011 11:41 AM

Many students who attend a community college plan to transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree.
Many students who attend a community college plan to transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree.
Students who decide to earn a bachelor's degree, as opposed to an associate's degree, often find that they have significant advantages upon graduation. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that while associate's degree holders earn an average of $39,884 per year, a bachelor's-level credential can boost the median annual salary to approximately $53,976.

Additionally, BLS data indicates that individuals who have bachelor's degrees tend to find more jobs than those who have associate's degrees. While about 34 million people who attended some college or graduated from a two-year school held a job in 2009, about 44 million bachelor's degree holders were able to find employment.

Due to these benefits, many students who begin their higher education experiences in community colleges plan to later transfer to four-year schools in order to earn bachelor's degrees. New information from CollegeBoard.com indicates that surveys show between 50% and 80% of all community college students plan to earn a bachelor's credential in the future. Additionally, the report reveals that many people who plan to complete an associate's degree program at a community college end up gaining the determination to earn a bachelor's.

In order to make it easier for community college students to advance their education, many universities have formed partnerships with these institutions. Connecticut's Sacred Heart University is one of the many schools that offers this type of program, according to its website.

At Sacred Heart, students from 13 community colleges in both Connecticut and Rhode Island can seamlessly transfer to the university. The school posts a list of general education and core classes that they will accept from the community colleges so that students can plan their education around the university's requirements.

Other institutions offer what are called 2+2 programs. These initiatives allow students to earn an associate's degree in two years from a community college and then use these credits to spend an additional two years completing a bachelor's degree program at a university. A select number of universities also offer 3+1 programs, which normally involves earning an associate of applied science degree, followed by one year of study at a four-year institution.

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