The Two-Year Story: Best-Kept Secrets

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Want to know a secret? More than 47 percent of the college students in the United States now attend two-year colleges. These schools are becoming increasingly popular for students with all kinds of goals.

Okay, so that’s not really such a big secret. But you might be surprised to learn just how much two-year colleges have to offer prospective students. Everybody knows that community or technical colleges are less expensive than four-year schools. But there is much more to the two-year college story. Here’s a look at some of the “best-kept secrets” of America’s dynamic two-year schools.

Top-Notch Instructors

Some people assume that because it costs less to attend a community or technical college, students must settle for a second-rate educational experience. But it is a mistake to equate low cost with inferior teaching.

People who are concerned about skyrocketing costs at four-year institutions may mistakenly view the lower cost of going to their local community college as the main benefit. What they often find out when they enroll is the secret of quality. Community colleges have top-notch instructors who devote most of their time to teaching and to helping students achieve their goals.

In fact, most community and technical college faculty members have excellent credentials. Those who teach in transfer programs typically have at least a master’s degree, and many hold doctorates. Many also have real-life experiences in the fields in which they teach, special certifications or both. An important factor is that those who teach in two-year colleges tend to regard themselves as professional teachers rather than researchers. They thrive on direct contact with students and focus their energies on the classroom experience.

Small Classes

Two-year colleges come in all sizes, from small rural schools to large urban colleges that dwarf some universities. But a common denominator in virtually all of them is a commitment to limiting class size.

One woman who started at State Fair Community College before continuing on to the University of Missouri says that class size is one of the biggest advantages of two-year schools. At SFCC average class size is about 16 students, most instructors know everyone’s names and they keep up with students personally. Her first class at MU had 200 students in it, and she never spoke with the professor once. Instead she had to work with one of the teaching assistants.

Small classes in community colleges mean a lower instructor-to-student ratio. The smaller classes help students get more involved, and student involvement is shown to be an important factor in overall success.

Special Programs

Community colleges are a super place to start if earning a four-year or graduate degree is the goal.

For instance, many two-year schools have worked out arrangements with universities so that students may pursue bachelor’s degrees after they earn an associate degree without leaving the community or technical college campus. At SFCC, students can pursue four-year degrees through Central Methodist University on the Sedalia, Clinton and Lake of the Ozarks campuses.

CMU offers students on the Sedalia, Clinton and Lake of the Ozarks campuses four-year degrees in Accounting, Applied Science in Management, Business, Child Development, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, General Studies, Middle School Education, Psychology, RN to BSN, Sociology, and Special Education. On the Sedalia campus CMU offers master’s degrees in Education and Clinical Counseling. Non-degree-seeking students can take classes to improve knowledge and skills.

Additionally, SFCC has agreements with the following universities that increase transfer ease and degree attainment for students who start at SFCC:

Drury University: seamless transfer of up to 88 credit hours toward various bachelor’s degrees, some of which are offered totally online

University of Central Missouri: seamless transfer of Associate of Arts in Teaching, Associate of Science in Chemistry and 2+2 transfer into industrial technology programs

University of Missouri-Columbia: seamless transfer of Associate of Arts in Teaching

Missouri University of Science and Technology: seamless transfer of Associate of Science in Engineering

Another feature of the agreements with CMU and UCM is that students who intend to transfer to either of these schools can receive dual admission through SFCC. Dual admitted students receive advisement from CMU or UCM concerning their progression toward degree completion while earning their Associate of Arts at SFCC. Students can also receive ID cards from these schools that provide access to athletic events, library services and cultural events.

SFCC also has articulation agreements with other Missouri colleges and universities to assist transferring credits. However, when transferring to another college, that college determines how credits transfer and how they are applied to degrees at that college. Each transfer agreement is subject to change without notice, so talk to an academic advisor at the four-year school about transfer plans before enrolling in classes at SFCC.

Social Advantages

There’s more to college than classrooms and textbooks. Community and technical college students can participate in athletics, student government, student organizations, theatre activities, music performance groups, and other activities. SFCC has more than 20 student clubs and organizations and a residence hall. By getting involved in clubs and other activities and living on campus, students get real-life, hands-on college experience.

Flexibility

Perhaps the greatest strength of two-year colleges is their flexibility. Want to work during the day and attend school at night? That shouldn’t be a problem. Most two-year schools offer extensive evening programs, and some have weekend offerings in addition to online courses. SFCC offers more than 260 online courses and some degrees can be obtained totally through online classes.

Interested in transferring? Students can complete a year or two of studies at a fraction of the cost of a four-year school, and then transfer to a university. Want to avoid four-year colleges? SFCC offers programs that take anywhere from one semester to one or two years to complete, which allows for quick entry into
the workforce.

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