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Disrupting the traditional four-year degree track

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Many community colleges now offer degree completion programs to help students obtain four-year degrees

Many community colleges now offer degree completion programs to help students obtain four-year degrees. Photo Credit: iStock.

By Pat King, Metro

On June 22nd, Eastern International College (EIC) of New Jersey will be holding their inaugural commencement ceremony for students graduating from their Bachelor of Science completion program. This is a momentous occasion, as the community college had initially started as a two year school — under the name Micro Tech Training Center — in 1990 providing associates degrees for students looking to get into various fields within the medical industry. That changed in 2017, as the school decided to expand their Dental Hygiene program to a give students — from both EIC and students transferring into the school from elsewhere —  the option to enroll in this program in order to complete their studies. By completing your four-year degree at a smaller community college, this will prevent students from accruing the massive amounts of student debt that they could get from attending a bigger college or university.

Completing a four-year degree through a two year Community college?

This has become a common trend lately as many two-year schools are expanding their efforts to either a.) offer full four year bachelor’s degrees or b.) provide an alternate paths to finishing out their degrees. According to President, Dr. Andrew Scott Ziner, the kind of program that EIC provides acts as a great way help to those who are looking to advance their education but may not have the funds to attend a larger college or university after completing their associate’s degree.

“What we’ve attempted to do,” explains Dr. Ziner, “is to tie into a New Jersey mandate that was passed a few years back which urges colleges and universities to be more inclusive. To bring vulnerable and low income families as much as possible into the ranks of higher education as much as they can. Traditionally, it may be that they would go to a two year community or county college and what we’re doing is offering an opportunity in Jersey City to be a part of this and if they want to stop with the associates of science degree they can and if they want to continue on to earn their bachelor of sciences degree they can as well.”

Even though this year marks the first year that EIC will be handing out these completion degrees to their students, Ziner believes that this is only the beginning and that the community college will soon offer online courses and even full four-year degree programs. However, there may be some political hurdles along the way.


“There are different types of coalitions in which some might not want smaller colleges to be able to offer programs that go beyond two years,” say Ziner. Adding “they have articulation agreements with community colleges and they have a nice situation set up — almost a pipeline – where they complete their associates and they move up in the ranks of Rutgers, Montclair State or others. We see ourselves as competing with or exceeding the quality of education that they provide as we have a very strong general education program here.”

Finishing your four-year degree without going into debt

But these resistant universities might just have to accept this as Pew Charitable Trusts reported last April, this is a trend that shows no sign of stopping. They reported that 90 two-year community colleges are now offering nearly 900 different baccalaureate programs across the country.

With the current national student debt currently hovering in the trillions, EIC and other similar community colleges are doing their part to make earning a higher education inclusive for all without the price tag that could weigh students down for years. So why not go back and earn a four-year degree through community college?

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Lifestyle - U.S. Daily News: Disrupting the traditional four-year degree track
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