For Immediate Release
November 26, 2013

U.S. consumers are more value conscious than ever following the recent economic recession.

The good news for residents of Washington State is that community colleges offer value (high quality education for affordable tuition) and job security. College graduates earn higher wages and are less likely to be unemployed, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

It’s well known that students who live at home and complete their first two years of college at Lower Columbia College save substantial costs, $20,000 per year or more.

But did you know that Washington students who transfer from a two-year college to a four-year school do just as well as those who begin studies at a university? This was confirmed by a recent study that looked at 20,499 bachelor degree students who graduated from Washington universities in 2011.*

Transfer Students Excel In All Majors

Community college transfer students made up 40 percent of all the 2011 bachelor degree graduates in the study. They graduated with virtually the same number of credits as those who started as freshmen at a university – an indicator of the smooth transfer between two-year and four-year colleges. Their GPAs were similar as well. Transfer students graduated in all subjects, including:

  • 47% of all business majors
  • 46% of all health field majors
  • 35% of all STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and math)

These are the same career fields projected to offer strong employment opportunities in our region over the next decade.

Sean Gestson is an example of student achievement at LCC. Sean went right to work following high school but after a few years decided that he wanted a more challenging career. He credits LCC faculty and their willingness to work closely with students for his success. With their help and encouragement, he mastered his courses to achieve success beyond his dreams. That included a $30,000 annual scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (largest in the nation for transfer students) to pursue advanced studies in environmental engineering. Sean is the third LCC student in eight years to receive this prestigious award earned by less than 100 students each year.

Students Rank LCC Among The Best

Like Sean, many students rate their LCC experience among the best in the country according to the results of a national survey. The Community College Survey of Student Engagement was completed last spring by 487 LCC students.

They ranked LCC in the top 10% nationally for Active and Collaborative Learning experiences and for Student-Faculty Interaction. Both categories are significant because research shows that active learning opportunities and relationships with instructors contribute to student success in program completion.
Student responses also placed LCC in the top 15% for Academic Challenge and Student Effort. This is equally important because it demonstrates that our graduates feel well-prepared for university studies or to enter the workplace.

Opening Doors For Struggling Students

In addition, remedial education, offered through their community college, opened the door to a college education for many students. Of the transfer students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree:

  • 59% took at least one remedial course
  • 43% graduated in a STEM field
  • 53% graduated in business

Molly Collins is on track to become one of those students. Molly was homeless with only an eighth grade education before enrolling at LCC. She earned her GED Certificate in just a single quarter through LCC’s innovative Fast Track GED Program and is now a college student. She has made the honor roll and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology with career plans to assist others, like herself, who need the encouragement to get their lives back on track. Molly has achieved several firsts since enrolling at LCC, including her first job, her first car and her first apartment.

According to state employment projections, over 70% of job openings in the next 10 years will require training beyond high school. Employment in occupations that require an associate degree is expected to increase more rapidly than employment in any other education or training category.

For students seeking careers that require a bachelor’s degree, Lower Columbia College’s Regional University Center now offers a local option to complete studies in four degree fields right on the local campus with two more degree programs, business and nursing, scheduled to start next year.

For value conscious consumers seeking to improve their lives through education, national and state research and the success stories of LCC students all demonstrate that Lower Columbia College IS The Smart Choice!

* Study produced by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) in cooperation with all Washington public four-year colleges and universities.


News and Media Contact:

 Wendy Hall, Vice President, Effectiveness & College Relations, Lower Columbia College


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