Does 2+2 Really Equal 4? Starting a Bachelor’s Degree at a Community College

Does 2+2 Really Equal 4? Starting a Bachelor’s Degree at a Community College

By Katie E Van Wyk – Tacoma Community College

A traditional U.S. Bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, and students around the world have been told that in order to earn that degree they must take the TOEFL or IELTS, earn a high GPA, score a 1400+ on the SAT and enroll at a university. But that’s just not the case!

The 2+2 Bachelor’s degree has been around since the late 1800’s when community and junior colleges were developed in the U.S. It is estimated that nearly half of all students graduating with a four-year degree today have attended a 2-year institution or community college. That’s 50%! Yet globally, we find there is a lack of knowledge about what a community college is and what the advantages are of starting a degree there. Here’s a quick list:

  • International students will save around $50,000* USD by starting at a community college
  • Admission is open and does not require standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT
  • Classes are smaller with more faculty interaction
  • Coursework can be general, to explore majors, or specific to the student’s interest
  • The schedule is flexible, often with less courses at any given time and the opportunity to take classes at night or during the day

The big question I hear is, will I really graduate in four years if I start at a community college? 

Let’s take a look at a few student cases to see…

Student A graduated from Tacoma Community College in Spring 2018 with an Associate of Arts degree in Psychology. In the state of Washington, the University of Washington-Seattle is not only the most highly ranked institution, it is also the flagship university. Student A applied for admission at UW-Seattle and was admitted for Fall 2018. After completing two years of coursework, they are graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in Spring 2020.

2 years Tacoma Community College + 2 years UW-Seattle = 4-year Bachelor’s Degree 

Student B dreamed of working for an aerospace manufacturer, like Boeing, and began their degree at Tacoma Community College in the field of engineering. In Spring 2018, Student B chose to continue their studies at Washington State University thanks to recommendations from the professors at Tacoma Community College and a guaranteed admission pathway. Student B is graduating with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering in Spring 2020.

2 years Tacoma Community College + 2 years Washington State University = 4-year Bachelor’s Degree 

So, my question is… Does 2+2 really equal 4? And the answer is YES! 

What is amazing about choosing a community college is that not only do students save money and have additional support, they also have more time to make the best university choice. With the average student changing their major three times during their undergraduate studies, a community college allows them to explore different majors and make the best university choice in year three of their Bachelor’s degree rather than in High School.  

The advantages of the 2+2 pathway are clear, and as we’ve seen above, the math adds up. Therefore, I encourage you to add community college to your next online search and join the 50% of Americans who begin their university degree at a community college.

*Estimated cost savings. Actual savings could be significantly higher or possibly lower as they vary by institution. 

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Katie Van Wyk is the Assistant Director for Global Outreach at Tacoma Community College. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.S.Ed. in Student Affairs Administration.

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